Todd Rundgren is part of the progressive rock scene mostly because of the excellent albums he made with his band Utopia. Todd Rungren (guitar, piano and vocals) and his companions Roger Powell (keyboards and vocals), John Willcox (drums and vocals) and Kasim Sulton (bass and vocals) released their true masterpiece Ra in 1977 but albums such as Oops! Wrong Planet (1977) and Adventures In Utopia (1980) were also relatively good prog albums. The Esoteric Recordings label already released these. Several studio and live albums could be welcomed. The latest in this series of releases is Live At The Old Waldorf In 1978.
This double CD was recorded August 5, 1978 at the Old Waldorf in Los Angeles. This concert was part of the first phase of the Back To The Bars club tour, which continued in the autumn. Numerous recordings from this tour were used for broadcast on local radio station so thatīs why this recording sounds so good compared to the usual bootleg recordings from the same era. The band at the time interpret a series of pieces mostly from the solo discography of Todd Rundgren. Tracks were taken from albums such as Something / Anything?(1972), Todd (1974), Faithful (1976), Hermit Of Mink Hollow (1978) and A Wizard, A True Star (1973). As for the Utopia songs that were performed they mainly did tracks from the album Oops! Wrong Planet (1977). The more well know compositions on this release are most of all Love Of The Common Man and Can We Still Be Friends. It is too bad that no songs from the earlier mentioned Ra album can be found on this release. That's probably the reason, while listening at the recordings of this show, that at first the songs seems to sound a bit straight forward or mainstream. As a lover of progressive rock music you are used to enjoying a lot of cool solos performed on the synthesizers and electric guitars. Sure they can be found on this double album as well but not as much as you would have hoped for. But tracks such as Eastern Intrigue/Initiation and Abandoned City have enough instrumental parts to make your prog heart beat a little bit faster. However, this doesn't mean the rest of the songs are less enjoyable. The live atmosphere and the passionate way the musicians perform the songs makes you wish you were at the Old Waldorf at the time sitting on a barstool drinking a beer and watching the band go through their set.
For fans of Todd Rungren, this is certainly a fine addition to their collection of this remarkable musician. I certainly had a wonderful time listening to this eighty minutes of music made in the late seventies.
*** Henri Strik (edited by Robert James Pashman)
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