on 25 July 2000
Recorded in several small intimate venues, with an extensive backing group including regular band Utopia and singers such as Hall and Oates and Stevie Nicks, this is one of my favourite live albums and still sounds great today after over 20 years. From heavy rock ('Black Maria') and synthesizer pop ('Real man') to soulful ballads ('The verb to love') and witty repartee with the audience, the album is virtually a Rundgren greatest hits, one of the few missing classics being the anthem 'Just one victory' a live version of which is of course on the earlier (also excellent) 'Another Live' album.
In many cases, it's hard to choose between the versions on this album and the original studio recordings, because although the dense multi-tracking of the original recordings could not be reproduced live, the tight playing of the band improves on the slightly disjointed feel of some of Todd's original recordings which he did alone in the studio.
And for those who may have associated Todd with pretentious synthesizer epics and cartoon zaniness, they can be assured that this album emphasises concise melodic songs which, for the most part, do great credit to his songwriting ability. There are only a couple of the pseudo philosophical ramblings from the period of the 'Initiation' album, and the rest is very much pop/rock as opposed to 'pomp rock'. In keeping with much of Todd's work, a lot of music was squeezed on to each side of the original record, so this is a pretty lengthy and good value live album. Highly recommended for both the ardent Rundgren fan and for those unfamiliar with his work.
on 10 April 2015
Having had this set on vinyl way back when - having misguidedly sold it with the rest of my vinyl slightly less way back - and now having it back in the fold on CD, all I can say it is a fabulous addition to any TR collection. In my very humble opinion, it ranks as probably the best, most representative live recording of the artist, tortured or otherwise. The sound quality is great, the choice of songs broad and the musicianship - well, it goes without saying. I thought, and still do think. that 'Hermit...' was a fantastic album and as these concerts are from the same era, the man was in tremendous form. Thankfully, we are spoilt for choice with Todd releases, new and old, but if you are dipping your toe in the water, do give this one a try. At a very reasonable price, it provides a fascinating and rewarding insight into a musician who can move between ballads, hard rock, power pop, soul and psychedelica with ease and real credibility. And with a huge sense of humour, which makes it so much more accessible. I don't know about the eccentric tag, but this set will probably have you reaching for the 'genius' and 'master' superlatives.