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Image Entertainment presents
Todd Rundgren: The Desktop Collection/2nd Wind Recording Sessions (1985)

"As long as you think there's something about yourself you can change, if you change that thing for the better, then you have made the world a better place."
- Todd Rundgren

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: May 14, 2002

Stars: Todd Rundgren
Other Stars: Roger Powell, Bobby Strickland, Vince Welnick, Lyle Workman, Ross Valery, Prairie Prince, Max Haskett, Shandi Sinnamon, Michele Gray
Director: Todd Rundgren

Manufacturer: Ritek
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 01h:04m:06s
Release Date: April 02, 2002
UPC: 014381142921
Genre: rock


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BBB+ D+

DVD Review

2nd Wind Live Recording Sessions

Musical experimenter, producer, solo artist and video pioneer Todd Rundgren decided to break the rules again with the recording of his twelfth solo album. There have generally been two distinct types of recordings for rock music: those created in the studio by assembling different parts through the process of multitrack recording, and those capturing live performances by an ensemble as they happen in a concert setting. Both have unique advantages; the studio provides a controlled atmosphere where instruments can be recorded individually, without leakage from other sounds, and with the ability to concentrate on small pieces of a work at a time. The downside to studio work is there isn't the kind of interaction and energy that can be generated by performing to an audience. The live recording, on the other hand, doesn't allow for multiple passes through a song to smooth out technical or execution mistakes while playing—the track is captured, warts and all.

For his 2nd Wind record, Rundgren chose to combine the two situations, allowing him to feed off the audience, while also maintaining the tight technical reigns a studio album permits. The sessions were recorded over several nights at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts. The band, comprised of what amounts to a small orchestra, plays live, the stage divided off with gobos to isolate each instrument as best as possible, and the players all wear headphones. Unlike a concert, if there were mistakes that warranted it, Rundgren would stop the performance and start again. The audience was instructed not to applaud at the end of the song, as this is not intended as a live album, but as a studio album performed for a live audience. While there is the atmosphere of a concert setting, the principle goal of these sessions was to capture the music on tape, without any of the theatrics that would generally accompany a "live" show.

Rundgren is also notorious for not explaining his songs, and he breaks from tradition on this front as well, providing a prologue about the influences or themes in the song that the band will play next. These often are humorous anecdotes, or philosophical musings that convey the ideas behind the song. From a visual perpective, the presentation here is interesting, but may be annoying for those with smaller screens. The image is divided into quadrants, each containing a different camera angle, showing the performance with four perspectives simultaneously. Often these aren't anything more than a live feed from the camera as the operator changes location, but there is enough to be seen in each window that something of interest is always present. The songs aren't shown in their entirety; instead, there are intercut interviews with the players and producer that give a good sense about what Todd was trying to achieve with this project. In all, ten songs are represented, from the opening introspective Change Myself to making a distinction between "old" and "new" money with the Gilbert and Sullivan-esque The Smell of Money, to the cynical sniping of Public Servant.

The Desktop Collection

The Desktop Collection showcases some of Todd Rundgren's work with video, and especially computer animation, a field he helped pioneer. Rundgren's interest in video dates back to the late 1970s, when he was able to set up Utopia Video Studios with proceeds from the production of Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell album. His first major project was a demo for the RCA videodisc (the precursor to laserdisc), an accompaniment to classical composer Gustav Holst's The Planets, which was only half finished before RCA pulled the plug. His video for Time Heals was the second ever to be broadcast on the fledgling MTV network. Always one to experiment with new technology, Rundgren sought to create new ways to interact with music and visual presentation. With the advent of the Amiga video Toaster, the tools to create virtual imagery were in his hands, fostering a new generation of visual style, and a methodology that would have far reaching ramifications in the entertainment industry. While many of these videos seem primitive by today's standards, without the inspiration they provided to others looking to explore the possibilities of the digital medium, the technology that is helping produce the virtual worlds of Toy Story or the new Star Wars films would not have been possible. Included here are videos for Change Myself, Theology, Fascist Christ and Property, all of which rely heavily on computer manipulated imagery and environments, the pseudo science/cooking show Our Friend the Brain, and a studio ensemble recording of Want of a Nail.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Image quality is pretty decent on both features, but does show the limitations of the technology used to capture and create it. The 2nd Wind Live Recording Sessions have reasonable color saturation and fairly solid blacks. There is some amount of aliasing, but otherwise this is a solid video based transfer. The biggest complaint will be the formating on smaller screens, as each of the four simultaneous images are less than a quarter of the total size.

The Desktop Collection features more vibrant colors associated with the computer-generated imagery, but also has more pronounced aliasing that is inherent to this style of animation, especially early work such as this. Color fidelity is good, blacks are strong, and sharpness is adequate. Widescreen owners will note that the image on the extreme right of Change Myself is not fully rendered, leaving a strip with no color information, and a number of anomalies. This is definitely eye candy, and is well presented.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishno


Audio Transfer Review: Audio for both features is in stereo. The 2nd Wind Live Recording Sessions are sourced from the raw taped tracks, which do not have the sweetening and production flourishes that the finished record does. The sound is therefore flatter than might be expected, but does have a good deal of channel separation making it easy to discern what each instrument and voice is playing. No technical deficiencies were noted here.

The Desktop Collection uses final album mixes, with a more polished presentation as evidenced by the opening Change Myself, which is featured in both programs. Tonal range is natural, though bass extension is a little weak, which is not surprising considering Rundgren's production style. Make sure to watch these in stereo mode for the best separation.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Music/Song Access with 18 cues and remote access
Packaging: EastPack
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: In a bit of a blast from the past, included is a 3m:28s interview with Todd discussing the benefits of the now defunct CD-I, the interactive CD format he used on his No World Order album, which allowed the listener to reprogram the content based on a variety of parameters. The video source for this is a bit dark, and there is distinct preecho on the audio track, but it does give some insight into Todd's view of music for the modern age, where not only does the audience listen to the music, but the music listens to the audience.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

Whether you are a fan of his work or not, it is hard to imagine the face of the modern video generation without the influence of Todd Rundgren. In almost every facet of the music industry, the effect of his adventures with technology, from his first solo recording projects, to experimenting with multimedia, satellite broadcast and interactivity, Rundgren has been involved to some extent in all of it. The 2nd Wind Live Recording Sessions presents the artist in a live context while recording an album, while The Desktop Collection demonstrates some of his work in the video realm utilizing then state-of-the-art computer editing and 3D imaging. This set allows an intimate look behind the scenes of one of the world's most prolific and influential recording artists.

 


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