Sunday, June 15, 2014

Utopia Another Live 1975

Rundgren used Utopia for his more prog leanings, especially early on. This, their second release, includes three new songs on side one and a few hits and covers on side two. This early version of the band includes three keyboardists, and is quite different from the four-piece outfit that Utopia would become.

The new songs all feature Todd's spiritual/searching lyrics; reincarnation, karma, and enlightenment. Another Life kicks things off with an impressive jazz-rock-prog-fusion display of complex arrangement and skilled playing. The Wheel follows, an acoustic number with folk leanings, featuring a sweet melody and Roger Powell's trumpet. The Seven Rays ends the first side, and is a keyboard-heavy rock anthem with crazy time signatures and turn-on-a-dime changes reminiscent of Yes, or even Zappa.

Side two opens with more prog-jazz and fine keyboard and guitar interplay on Intro/Mister Triscuits. Then comes the fast and furious Something's Coming (from West Side Story), and it is a good version of the Bernstein/Sondheim classic. Heavy Metal Kids follows, and is a perfectly good take on one of Todd's lesser songwriting efforts. The band then does a passable cover of the Move's Do Ya, and closes the set with Just One Victory, a perfect show closer, even if it is bettered by the original on A Wizard/A True Star.

Not a great record by any measure, but one of the better Utopia outings. There are some fine moments, most notably Another Life and The Wheel.

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