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Utopia - Another Live  CD (album) cover




Eclectic Prog

3.15 | 36 ratings

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2 stars Another Live is an unusual second album for Utopia to have recorded. Stuck between the group's (and Rundgren's) most progressive albums ever (Todd Rundgren's Utopia and Ra), it's a live work that contains nothing from either album. Rather it offered four previously unreleased originals and four cover songs (even if two of them are Rundgren songs from his solo albums). Despite being blatantly flawed and far from consistently progressive, it has a couple of the best songs in Rundgren's vast catalogue.

The opening track Another Life has some fierce synths (there were three keyboardists in the line-up at this point!) and is one of the better attempts to link Rundgren's pop/rock tendencies with his desire to do prog. The mellow acoustic track The Wheel is one of my favourite Rundgren songs ever, but despite the trumpet, glockenspiel and accordion additions, doesn't really do much in terms of variation of chord patterns and tempo. Still, I love it.

The Seven Rays begins with a power-prog riff, before another memorable vocal melody from Todd kicks in. There are loads of great solos from synth player Roger Powell (Rundgren's main side-kick in Utopia) and one from Todd himself on guitar. I particularly like the bit where the song breaks down into a moody synth and organ driven passage that could have come straight out of the Genesis handbook, and really the outro of this song might just be Powell's career highlight! Intro/Mister Triscuits on the other hand is a schizophrenic piece. The "Intro" part featuring Rungdren on guitar and Powell on synth is nothing more than some flashy showing off, but then when the rhythm section kicks off and each of the three keyboardists (Powell, Klingman and Schukett) and Rundgren interlock impressively, this instrumental becomes an excellent spacey fusion tour-de-force.

Unfortunately, Mister Triscuits segues into a cover of Stephen Sondheim's Something's Coming! I admire the ambition involved in doing a prog version of a Sondheim showtune, but I do not like the final product. This heralds the start of a rather disappointing second half of the album in which Utopia revisit the boogie bar band sludge of Heavy Metal Kids (from Todd) and the white-boy soul of Just One Victory (from A Wizard/A True Star). The best cut of the second half of this album is a take on The Move's Do Ya (but even that is a little too similar, not to mention distinctly inferior, to the version that the Electric Orchestra would cut on 1976's A New World Record album).

Listening to this though, it's obvious that Utopia was an exciting live band, and I would like to hear these guys tackle some of the more exciting material from either Todd Rundgren's Utopia or Ra (Utopia Theme, Freak Parade, Communion With The Sun, Singring And The Glass Guitar all come to mind, and yes I know the latter two weren't written when Another Live was made!). The band's sound is pretty strong and even if Todd's vocals are occasionally flat, there are some great harmony parts, which is quite rare on a live record.

Still Another Live is way too inconsistent for me to recommend it wholeheartedly. I do believe that Rundgren and his cohorts had an absolutely classic prog album within them, but that it never got out. I'd get this only if you've already heard both the first and third Utopia albums and like what you hear. ... 46% on the MPV scale

Trotsky | 2/5 |


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