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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Todd Rundgren

All Sides of the Roxy: May 1978

Review by Gary Hill

The argument could be made that Todd Rundgren is one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th Century. In fact, I'd make that argument. This new three CD set assembles his entire concert at the Roxy from May 23rd of 1978 (the first two CDs) along with a CD that includes a number of other recordings from Rundgren's series of shows at the Roxy that month. The concert from May 23rd is special in part because it was a live radio broadcast across the country, but also because it featured a lot of guest performers. Among the list of guests was Rundgren's fellow Utopian Kasim Sulton, Rick Derringer, Spencer David, Hall and Oates and Stevie Nicks. This comes in a clamshell box and includes a great booklet. It all makes for a set that's well worth having. I've included this under progressive rock because we generally put Rundgren there, but not everything here is prog. It is all worthwhile, though.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD One
      
Wolfman Jack Introduction

This cut is about truth in advertising, at least when it comes to the title.

Real Man
The introduction continues into the introduction portion of the song. Rundgren hits the stage and the song proper is underway. This is a classy rocker. It's a solid, but not perfect performance.
It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference
This Rundgren classic is delivered in style. It works better than the opener did, and there were no real complaints there.
Love of the Common Man
More of a rocker, this is another effective live cut.
Lady Face
More of a mellower pop rocker, this is good, but not as strong as the cuts that preceded it.
Love in Action
Now, this is more like it. It's literally a screaming hot rocker.
Never Never Land
The introduction on this is extended with some stage talk. The piano ballad approach takes over from there.
You Cried Wolf
Wolfman Jack returns to the stage to become a co-conspirator on this rocking number. It's a classy rendition.
Range War
Spencer Davis provides harmonica on this number. It's quirky and cool.
Bread

A quite proggy piece, this is a cool rocker.

Can We Still Be Friends
Another Rundgren classic, this is delivered in style.
Black Mariah
Another rocker, this one works quite well in this live telling.
Don't You Ever Learn?
The opening of this is full-on progressive rock. It shifts to more of a mainstream rocker from there. The instrumental section, though is another excursion into freaky progressive rock.
Sometimes I Just Don't Know What to Feel
Daryl Hall and John Oates guest on this tune. It starts with piano and works out to more of a standard Rundgren rocker.
Black and White

This hard rocker is delivered well here.

CD Two
A Dream Goes on Forever
A piano based number, this is strong. It has a classic Rundgren sound.
Medley: I'm So Proud / Ooh Baby Baby / La La Means I Love You / I Saw the Light
Rick Derringer shows up for this extended piece. This starts with a classy kind of number. They work through several different songs along the road of this medley, turning in solid performances of all of them.
Eastern Intrigue
Kasim Sulton joins Rundgren for this number. This cut is very much a progressive rock excursion. It works through some pretty interesting changes. It's complex and so cool.
Initiation
Here is another that's very much a prog rocker. The sax brings some hints of jazz to the cut.
Couldn't I Just Tell You

A harder rocking number, this is still trademark Rundgren.

Band Introductions
Here we get Todd Rundgren introducing his band and calling all the other musicians who have been on the stage out to join the band. In addition, Stevie Nicks joins them.
Hello It's Me
It might be cliché, but this is one of my all-time favorite Rundgren sounds. The bouncy number is just so cool.
Hang on Sloopy
This old school rocker get's a tasty cover here. Derringer provides the lead vocal here, which is appropriate since he was the guitarist on the original version of the tune.
She's Gone
Here Rundgren and company tackle a song that was originally from Hall and Oates. This is a great rendition.
Just One Victory
We're back into Rundgren territory with all the guests still on the stage. This whole group approach makes for a great closing shot for the main show.
CD Three
            
Real Man

This is a classic Rundgren sounding rocker.

It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference
Speaking of classic, this Rundgren classic gets a great live rendition here.
Love of the Common Man
This rocker works really well, too.
Lady Face
Starting on piano, this is a cool pop rocker delivered in style.
Love in Action
This rocker takes on some hints of punk in this smoking hot live performance.
The Lord Chancellor's Nightmare Song
A real oddity, this is very much an artsy kind of thing. It's fast paced and feels old world based. It's also fun. It's just piano and very fast paced vocals.
You Cried Wolf
A classic Rundgren rocker, I think this rendition is very good.
Can We Still Be Friends
A piano based piece, I like this live telling a lot.
Bread
A proggier cut, this rocks like crazy. It's a cool live rendition.
The Verb "To Love"
I love the soulful kind of groove to this piece. It's a great cut, and this is such a cool performance of it.
Medley: I'm So Proud, Ooh Baby Baby, La La Means I Love You, I Saw the Light
It starts with a mellower approach based mostly on piano and voice. It grows outward from there. The renditions of all these tunes are quite strong. I particularly like "La La Means I Love You," though. It's bouncy and fun.
Determination
The arrangement on this rocker feels a bit cluttered, but it works well. The band gets introduced at the end of this.
Hello It's Me
Here we get another rendition of Rundgren's massive hit. It's another strong take.
Love Is the Answer
I love the acapella section later in this piece. The vocal arrangement overall is the real selling point here, though.
Just One Victory
A fun rocking tune, this is another classy one.
 
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