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Todd Rungren and Utopia: Live At The Electric Ballroom, 23rd October

Live 70s wizardry in Milwaukee from heyday Todd.

The title might give you a bit of a clue as to what this 90-minute double album offers.

Yet there are so many Rundgren releases and reissues flying around of late that what you’ll really be wanting to know is: is _Live At The Electric Ballroom _one of the good ones, or one of the duffers? Well, you’ll be pleased to know it’s a very decent live recording, from a year when his marbles hadn’t yet been spread too thinly. Utopia were his wildest, proggiest band on occasion, but this show keeps everything fairly direct and melodic and he sounds at ease with them and with his own material. There may be no I Saw The Light, but otherwise he’s happy to play ‘the hits’, as well as a balancing ratio of soft-rock sojourns. He’s in crisp voice, right up to Hello It’s Me, where he goes hoarsely out of tune and hands over to the crowd. The spirit, though, sounds fine: it’s one of those gigs that exudes easy-going momentum and a crackle of exuberance. Can We Still Be Friends, Black Maria and The Death Of Rock And Roll all have their lights on. Recorded for a radio simulcast, this previously unreleased blast is one trawl through the Todd vaults that was worth the dig. CR

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Chris Roberts has written about music, films, and art for innumerable outlets. His new book The Velvet Underground is out April 4. He has also published books on Lou Reed, Elton John, the Gothic arts, Talk Talk, Kate Moss, Scarlett Johansson, Abba, Tom Jones and others. Among his interviewees over the years have been David Bowie, Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Bryan Ferry, Al Green, Tom Waits & Lou Reed. Born in North Wales, he lives in London.