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BMG Music presents
Utopia: Redux '92—Live in Japan (1992)

"Light of the world, shine on me, love is the answer."
- Todd Rundgren

Review By: Jeff Ulmer   
Published: September 19, 2000

Stars: Todd Rundgren, Roger Powell, Kasim Sultan, Willie Wilcox
Director: Toru Asai

Manufacturer: Sonopress USA
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 00h:55m:02s
Release Date: August 15, 2000
UPC: 723338005294
Genre: rock


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B BA-A D

DVD Review

Todd Rundgren has been a pioneer in the music industry for most of his 32 years in the industry. Aside from his catalogue of over records, plus his role as producer, engineer and sideman for everyone from Shaun Cassidy to David Bowie, Todd can also claim credit for being the first to broadcast a concert live via microwave in 1978, for producing the first demo disc for the laserdisc format in 1979, and for producing the first interactive music-only CD ROM. Born in 1948 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Rundgren's first group, Nazz (formed in 1967), was named after a Yardbirds song. After three not too successful albums he went solo for the first time. His 1972 double album Something/Anything? which he self-produced while performing all the instrument and vocal parts, brought him to world attention. Delving into prog rock, he formed Utopia in 1974, a side project featuring three keyboardists, a percussionist, bass player and drummer, and released Todd Rundgren's Utopia. After a few years of experimental live shows and the album Another Live, he turned the band into a four piece, and with the release of Ra in 1977, Rundgren began taking lesser and lesser roles in the band as the years progressed. For the next two decades, interspersed with Rundgren's many other endeavors in the music and multimedia industries, Utopia continued to tour and release albums until they officially disbanded in 1986.

Utopia: Redux '92 - Live In Japan was originally released on CD and video in 1993. Reuniting after a seven year hiatus, Utopia (Todd Rundgren - guitars, vocals, Roger Powell - keyboards, vocals, Kasim Sultan - bass, vocals and Willie Wilcox - drums, vocals) took the stage in Tokyo's Gotanda Kani Hoken Hall May 10, 1992, and this DVD captures material from that performance. Opening with the band back stage, the show begins with Fix Your Gaze from the 1986 compilation album, Trivia. Roger Powell joins Todd on guitar while drummer Willie Wilcox handles lead vocals for Princess Of The Universe (Utopia 1982). Todd takes back the mic for Hammer In My Heart, which is followed by Back On The Street with Kasim as lead voice. Hiroshima (from 1977's Ra) and Love In Action (Oops! Wrong Planet 1977) are up next. Two from 1980's Adventures in Utopia album follow, with Roger Powell tackling the lead spot for Caravan and Todd and Karim trading off verses during Last Of The New Wave Riders. Some black and white footage from backstage and around the surrounding area of the hall is intercut with the One World performance. Fan favorite Love Is The Answer and Just One Victory (not available on the 1998 CD release) finish off the set.

Those of you with the CD version will note the omission of Zen Machine, Abandon City, Swing To The Right, The Ikon and Only Human from the Rhino CD release of this concert. Also notably missing is the band's only Top 40 hit Set Me Free which wasn't featured on that tour. The chapter listing on the back is incorrect - Fix Your Gaze is the first chapter, not Behind The Scenes which is in reference to the footage preceeding the first song. The performances are all very good, and the band looks like they were enjoying themselves. This is a reasonably intimate setting, so the production is not all that fancy. For fans who enjoy Utopia's later efforts with more of a pop direction, this disc will be well received. For those who would prefer their more progressive material, I wouldn't really recommend this disc.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

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


Image Transfer Review: Shot on video, this release looks very good, with solid black levels, good color saturation and minimal aliasing. The opening backstage sequences are a little washed out, but contrast nicely with the color depth from the on stage footage. The image is crisp and clear, and for live video is perfectly acceptable.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The 5.1 audio track is spatious and full range, though extreme bass is very limited. The mix (done by Rundgren of course) is well balanced, with all instruments clearly audible. The 2.0 stereo track is much more center biased with a markedly more confined nature. Fortunately the very annoying flourescent hum in the first backstage section only lasts a few seconds, just long enough to be irritating.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Music/Song Access with 11 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: While the menus feature music and transitions between screens, there is very little here other than DVD production credits, chapter selections and audio preferences. For a disc like this, it would be nice to at least have a song/album listing or discography available.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

Capturing a fine (to this date) final performance, the presentation on this disc is very good. For fans of later Utopia material, you'll be very happy. Those yearning for the early prog days will be disappointed.

 


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