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(120:44; Cleopatra Records)
Reverting back to the original name for the band, and also down to the quartet format which they used from the late Seventies through to when they original disbanded, here we have Utopia on fine form. Todd Rundgren (lead guitar, lead vocals) again has John "Willie" Wilcox –(drums, percussion, lead vocals) and Kasim Sulton (bass, lead vocals) close to hand, with just keyboard player Gil Assayas being new to the band. This reminds me so much of the “bootleg” albums released some 15 years ago for both Todd and for Utopia, with the latter being the 7-disc set ‘Last of the New Wave Riders’ which obviously hadn’t been retouched or re-recorded and was so much better for it. Like many I have followed Todd’s career with great interest for many years and consider myself to be incredibly lucky to be present when he made a small club appearance in New Zealand some years back with a put-up band. He was playing blues that night, but anything he does is simply magical. A quick check down the track-listing and I was smiling even before this hit the player. Any set which includes the mighty “Trapped” is always going to find favour with me, and “Love In Action” is just putting the icing on the cake, but there are 24 songs on this two-hour long set so there is plenty here for everyone. Todd may be 70 years old, but that is no reason at all to slow down, and he provides great guitar and his voice is still surprisingly strong, and if it cracks here and there who cares? Just adds to the honesty. He may not hit the high notes with as much oomph as he used to, but the crowd lapped it up. Three of the guys hadn’t hit the stage as Utopia since the early 90’s, and haven’t recorded together in more than 30 years, so many never expected to see this ever happen, and the ones who were that night had a blast. To get the full experience fans are going to have to raid the piggy banks, as this has been released as a deluxe 4-disc digipack including a Blu-Ray, DVD and 2 CDs. Utopia are back!
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