Toddheads are going to love this four-CD treasure trove.
Disc One features a solo Runt performing ‘In Concert’ in 1972 before a live Radio One studio audience, as he promoted the then-current double-album masterwork Something/Anything?. He played guitar and piano while his ‘band’ consisted of backing tracks that the multi-instrumentalist had prepared earlier. Hearing him indulging in his trademark laconic between-song banter, you’d have no idea he was mere months from embarking on the fantastical stream-of-consciousness foray that was A Wizard, A True Star. Discs Two and Three are a real treat for fans of the various incarnations of Utopia, who still have a case for being America’s greatest ever prog band.
The first disc captures them at the Hammersmith Odeon on their inaugural visit to the UK and includes material from Utopia’s magnificent 1974 debut, the live follow-up Another Live (1975) as well as the odd track from Something/Anything?, A Wizard, A True Star and Todd. There’s also a nod to his mod/Anglophile roots via a cover of The Move’s Do Ya and a previously unreleased track, Something’s Coming. There’s also a January 1977 concert, recorded
at Oxford Polytechnic, largely showcasing material from Utopia’s stunning Egyptological extravaganza, Ra (it’s the four-piece iteration of the band here). On Disc Four, the DVD, you actually get to see Rundgren in his pomp. Sadly there is no footage of him from 1972, but there is a rare performance of him and Utopia on The Old Grey Whistle Test in a red satin jump-suit from 1975, on piano for Real Man (featuring a young Luther Vandross on backing vocals) and wielding an axe for The Seven Rays. You also get a Whistle Test film of Rundgren and Utopia at the Bearsville Picnic in 1977 performing Singring And The Glass Guitar, and finally, bringing things full circle, Todd solo again, this time for a Whistle Test special from ’82, featuring selections from his catalogue as well as a screening of the video pioneer’s award-winning promo for Time Heals. Fascinating stuff.