I’m of two minds when it comes to Todd Rundgren. Part of me hates him, and the other part of simply loathes him. Oh, I’m kidding. I really liked the Todd Rundgren who gave us 1972’s Something/ Anything?. It wasn’t until he formed the synth-heavy prog rock band Utopia that things got ugly. Ugly as in pompous, long-winded (a song off the band’s 1974 debut clocks in at 30:26), and philosophically empty-headed. He became the kind of guy who referred to Ra, the sun god, as a “holy synthesizer.” And speaking of Ra, Utopia’s 1977 LP, none other than Robert Christgau complained that, “The first side is bad, the second unspeakable.” And that’s before he really starts getting insulting.
That said, I have a horrible confession to make. I actually owned Utopia’s 1975 LP Another Live, which followed the band’s self-titled live debut. And not only did I own it, I played it, on my 8-track boom box, while painting houses in Gettysburg, PA in the bicentennial year 1976. It seems inexplicable to me now, given that I would soon despise them, but what I really liked, looking back, were the songs “Heavy Metal Kids” and “Just One Victory,” both of which appeared on Rundgren solo albums before Utopia got around to performing them. My brother and I even painted the legend “Heavy Metal Kids 1976” in silver glam paint on the stone windowsill of one of the houses we painted. I went back to Gettysburg not too long ago, in part to see if it was still there. It wasn’t. Some people just have no respect for history.
Anyway, I decided to gird my loins and listen to Another Live again, just to determine whether it sparked any nostalgic memories. And I’ll be damned, but the LP isn’t bad. Or not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. There are, admittedly, moments of sublime banality, combined with large amounts of futuristic brouhaha, but a few of the songs actually get out of their wheelchairs and dance, which is certainly more than I expected.