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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Todd Rundgren

Live at the Forum: London 1994

Review by Gary Hill

Let me say to begin that I think Todd Rungren is one of the greatest songwriters of all time. I’ve never seen him live, but I’ve heard (and I’ll bet) it’s a great experience. This live CD, though, is not without its flaws. I mean, the performance is reasonably solid and it has enough fun and music to make it worth getting. It’s obvious, though, that a lot of the live show on this particular tour was based on things other than music. Without actually experiencing that (or even seeing it in a video) this often gets a bit boring. Simple songs are dragged on and on for various stage happenings and it just doesn’t work as well as it could. Like I said, it’s still well worth having, it’s just not the best live Rundgren recording you will get into your hands. I will say, too, that I’ve put this under prog, mainly because that’s where we land Rundgren, based mostly on his Utopia stuff. Sure, there are some proggy things here, but I wouldn’t consider the bulk of this prog.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1

             
Introduction / Love Thing

Some funky music is heard at the start. Then Rundgren talks over the top. There is a cool groove from there. Rundgren outlines some rules for the show over that. That’s the whole song.

Day Job
A cool electronic groove is heard here. The cut builds with different bits of sound over the top (including the “Twilight Zone” theme at one point). Some layers of non-lyrical vocals are heard as this moves forward, too. Rundgren’s vocals are fast (mostly) spoken ones. The “Twilight Zone” theme returns when there is a lyrical reference to it. There is a smoking hot guitar solo later, too.
International Feel
This works out to something that’s more typical Rundgren. Between the layers of vocals, general song structure, busy bass line and more, it’s pretty obvious that it’s Rundgren. It’s a cool tune.
Property
With more of a funky vibe, this makes me think of Rundgren does Roxy Music in some ways. It’s another great live performance.
Chant
This is another song that really is sort of trademark Rundgren. At the same time it’s a cool party piece here. There is a really extended bit of loops here. I’m sure it was probably cool live with a lot of stuff happening onstage. Listening at home without the visual, though, it gets boring.
Secret Society
This thing is over 15 and a half minutes long. It’s a cool tune and has some great guitar soloing. That said, I don’t think there is enough substance here to keep it interesting that long. Still, it works well.
Feel Too Good
More of a groove, this is a good tune. I like the backing vocals and the whole thing just kind of grabs the listener in a way. The guitar solo keeps this from getting to be overlong, but only barely.
Don't You Ever Learn
This is more of a creative and meaty piece. It does move into some pretty strange territory at times.
Disc 2
               
Worldwide Epiphany

There is prog, hip hop, funk groove and a lot more built into this jam. It’s an effective one that’s a lot of fun.

No World Order
This one has a lot of hip hop with Rundgren proving he can really rap. There are sung sections that really soar, too, though. It works out into some pretty powerful jamming later.
Black and White
Now, here we are taken into some real rock territory. This is a classic and it’s delivered in fine fashion.
Fascist Christ
Weird electronic sounds with spoken/rapped vocals is the concept here. It’s part industrial and part hip hop. It’s a bit odd, but has a cool groove.
Love Thing
This is just a short talking to the crowd bit.
Bang the Drum All Day
This classic fun time Rundgren stomper gets a live treatment. Someone from the crowd gets to “bang on the drum,” too.
Incidental Music
This is just a little interlude thing.    
One World (Acoustic Encore)
This acoustic rocker is pretty cool. It’s a nice change.
 
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