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Anthology (1974-1985)

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Album Review

For all their many attributes, Utopia was notoriously uneven on record. They were just as capable of turning out great pop tunes as they were to wander into meandering jams or directionless hard rock — and this applies not only to their earliest art rock records, but also to their mainstream pop/rock albums. That's what makes Rhino's Anthology (1974-1985) such a welcome addition to their catalog. There may be a few great songs missing ("Hammer in My Heart," for example) and the three prog rock songs that appear toward the end of the album are a bit of a downer, but the remaining 13 tracks capture Utopia at their absolute best. The group may have attempted to cover more ground in their early prog rock incarnation, but often those records meandered, which meant that the songs only made sense on the original albums. Once they gave themselves over to pop/rock with 1977's Oops! Wrong Planet, they were still uneven, but uneven pop/rock albums can be distilled into one dynamic collection. And that's what happens here. "Crybaby," "The Very Last Time," "Set Me Free," "Love in Action," "Love Is the Answer," "You Make Me Crazy," "Lysistrata," "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" and "I Just Want to Touch You" were undisputed highlights on their respective albums, and hearing them all in a row is a sheer delight. Taken together, they argue that Utopia's records were better and more consistent than they actually were, but the fact is, Anthology (1974-1985) is "the definitive Utopia album," as Bud Scoppa writes in the liner notes. For Rundgren fans who love his solo records but never quite "got" Utopia, this is the only Utopia record they need.

Biography

Formed: 1974 in New York, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Stardom was handed to him with Something/Anything?, but Todd Rundgren rejected it. He wanted to explore new musical territory instead, and his adventures led him to form Utopia in 1974. Initially, Utopia was a prog rock septet featuring three keyboardists, but as the '70s progressed, the group evolved into a shiny mainstream rock quartet, and Rundgren retreated into the background, as each of his bandmates contributed songs and lead vocals to the albums. By the early '80s, Utopia had developed into...
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Anthology (1974-1985), Utopia
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