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



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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").

Report this review (#26516)
Posted Tuesday, May 4, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I love this CD. It has several tracks included that the DVD doesn't for reasons unknown, although the DVD does contain "Just One Victory," a favorite of mine missing on the CD.

Utopia fans should enjoy this cross-section of material which is nicely sprinkled with the best material from all vocalists, unlike much of the studio and especially live work where they seem to rely more on Todd and even slip in his solo work.

Todd opens with the refreshing "Fix Your Gaze" followed by Roger's Zen Machine (both not something typically found on their live recordings) and what follows is a set from the band that is not only upbeat and exceptionally well performed and recorded but containing a raw energy that I personally find preferable in many ways to some of the studio versions which are almost over-produced. Almost all of the cuts save a couple that are slower tunes, really rock - Zen Machine, Princess of the Universe, Swing to the Right and more. The audio quality, like the DVD, is also far superior to other Utopia DVD's which are suspect at best.

I really enjoy listening to this CD repeatedly and enjoy several of the cuts better than the studio versions. The crowd appears to be enjoying the show and the quality of the recording is excellent. The band sounds in better form than ever during their previous tours.

Report this review (#67941)
Posted Thursday, February 2, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Amazing, I bought this NEW for only 5 bucks. Thought it might just be a curiosity of a live Japan show I might listen to a few times and put at the bottom of the CD piles. Wrong! This is an excellent collection of Utopia music. There is a heavy dominance of the more "poppy" Utopia such as "Trapped" and "Hammer in my Heart" and "Only Human", however there are some interesting bits from earlier Utopia releases such as "Caravan" (not as good as the album version, and "Hiroshima" from RA (played only cuz it was a show in Japan?), and a short version of "The Ikon". The energy of this live show is great, and the band is tight and sounds like they are having a ball. There are not really any klinkers here (although "Hiroshima" may be a bit tacky to play at this show). An overall solid live album that I listen to a lot when I am in my Utopia mood. I have not heard any other live Utopia releases so I cannot compare it them for quality, but I can easily give this a solid 4 stars. Not perfect, but really, really, really good! And what a bargain price!
Report this review (#294368)
Posted Friday, August 13, 2010 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars This was the first live album since Utopia's second album "Another Live", and the first live Utopia album by the permanent lineup of Rundgren, Sultan, Powell and Wilcox. It is also, in fact, a reunion album, as the band broke up about six years before this tour.

Unfortunately, Utopia with this lineup quickly changed from a prog fusion band to a (highly talented) power pop group. And the set list here, because it covers their entire catalog, has very little true prog. Only The Ikon is really a prog song, but it's shortened down from it's original thirty minutes down to under five minutes. A few other songs have some prog elements, but that's all we get.

On the plus side, the band, even when playing non-prog, was damned good at it. Trapped, Swing to The Right, Abandon City and Caravan all sound great here. And the harder rockers, Hiroshima and The Last Of The New Wave Riders are just fantastic.

The low points are the later and blander Utopia tracks, like Only Human and One World.

But still, it's good to have a live set from this version of the band (although I have a tape of a radio broadcast from 1980 that blows this set away).

Report this review (#402923)
Posted Friday, February 18, 2011 | Review Permalink

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