Todd Rundgren - vocals, guitar, keys; John Wilcox - drums, vocals; Roger Powell - keyboards, vocals; Kasim Sulton - bass, vocals
Todd Rundgren was at the height of his solo career in 1973 with Wizard A True Star and the ambitious Todd double LP when he decided to form Utopia, a musically adventurous band in which he was simply a member. Or at least that's what Rundgren wanted fans to think. In reality, Utopia was simply another Todd Rundgren solo outlet, featuring mostly songs written and sung by Rundgren.
In the beginning, Utopia was a progressive rock outlet, with six to 15 minute instrumentally driven tracks created for late night FM playlists. By the time the band released its fourth album, Oops, Wrong Planet, with songs like "Love Is The Answer," it had essentially become a pop band, brandishing the same style of Top 40 hits that Rundgren had made famous on his solo albums.
Recorded in 1981, this show originally was taped for the King Biscuit Flower Hour and broadcast nationally. Captured at the famed Agora Ballroom in Cleveland, Ohio, it showcases Rundgren and Utopia in one of the strongest markets of their career.
The band was promoting Swing To The Right, which described the change of guard in the White House from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan. Opening with a spirited version of "One World," they move straight into one of the earliest songs written by the band, "The Road To Utopia" (named after the name of a classic Bob Hope/Bing Crosby film). Another memorable song, "Lysistrata," talks about the ancient Greek queen that caused a war. The set ends with two classic Rundgren songs: "The Very Last Time" and "Just One Victory."
By 1985, Rundgren saw no real benefit in doing both projects, and he broke up Utopia, only to reunite once in 1992 with the band for a Japanese tour.
Todd Rundgren first became known as the guitarist and driving force behind the Nazz, a psychedelic hard rock band that made very experimental music for the late 1960s. The Nazz made three albums for a division of Atlantic Records before Rundgren went solo in 1970 and scored a Top 40 hit with "We Gotta Get You A Woman." He formed his own short-lived band called Runt with the sons of TV celebrity Soupy Sales, before deciding to make a landmark double album called Something?/Anything!.
Something?/Anything! yielded the Top 10 smash, "Hello, It's Me" and several other songs that would become concert and FM radio staples. His next album was the ambitious, A Wizard, A True Star, which firmly established Rundgren as "The Thinking Man's Pop Star." He soon built a large and loyal following of fans.
Over the next twenty-five years, he would write and record a number of successful albums, and some less-than-successful experimental projects, both as a solo artist and with Utopia. Many of his songs would end up being hits for others, including "Can We Still Be Friends?" (Robert Palmer), and "Love Is The Answer" (England Dan & John Ford Coley). He also built a solid career as a producer for the Tubes, Hall & Oates, and others.
Today, in addition to making his own music, Rundgren can be found fronting the revived version of the Cars with Greg Hawkes and Elliott Easton from the original line-up. There is talk of a Utopia reunion for 2009.