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Utopia - Redux '92 Live In Japan CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.52 | 15 ratings

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3 stars As I thumb through my record collection, it occurs to me that Japan is like the Love Boat of live venues. Or perhaps it's a pop culture doppler effect, a land that time forgot where American-darlings-turned-doyens can still play king for a day. It may even be some sort of cosmic payback for Pink Lady. Anyway, so it was that UTOPIA found themselves in the land of the rising sun, where the '80s reign eternal, very much alive in Japan. And for two weeks in 1993, it was 1986 all over again. Maybe the talking dog with the bowtie was behind the whole thing, and maybe it's just that UTOPIA never really died in spirit. The band had kept busy, their affection for the material apparently never waned, and (in crossing the Pacific) found the water necessary to reconstitute UTOPIA. If you're worried that the new UTOPIA sounds stale, relax ducks. TODD, ROGER, WILLIE and KAS charge through the material with just as much energy as you remember: "Trapped", "Princess of the Universe", "The Ikon", "Love In Action", "One World." And, most of the time, they nail it. Despite a little tinkering with tracks like "Caravan", "Redux '92" generally sticks to the blueprints. Perfectionist that he is, TODD works hard to capture the exact sound of the originals, and the result is a live record that feels like the work of a young band touring as if their livelihood depended on it (and not a dormant band dusting off the oldies for a few bucks). It's an effort the faithful will appreciate, and even those visiting UTOPIA for the first time may find this a suitable sampler. More impressive, in a rare case of restraint, not one TODD RUNDGREN solo track slips into the proceedings. What does slip in, and I suppose it would have been conspicuously absent otherwise, is "Hiroshima". It's a dicey move, delivered here like a lead balloon, which the audience receives graciously and (thankfully) adds a touch of levity to at the end. Without testing the tensile strength of our rights to free speech, I do believe that part of the USA's lack of credibility among foreign nations is our selective memory. Never forget the sacrifice we made at Normandy, France. Never forget Pearl Harbor, Japan. Never mention Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A United States that remembered its own atrocities might become a UTOPIA indeed.

So in summation: good live disc (buy it) -- patriotic rhetoric (don't buy it). Apparently, a 55-minute video of this was also made available on VHS and novelty-size coaster (oops, I mean "laser disc").

daveconn | 3/5 |


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