Utopia

Oblivion, POV & Some Trivia

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Utopia lasted for a decade or so, originally to air out some of Todd Rundgren's more experimental musical ideas and later settling down into a quartet format that veered comfortably between power-pop and an interesting set of rock variations. Unfortunately, the one thing that seemed to elude the band was serious commercial success -- Utopia developed a strong fan following, but somehow never managed to achieve the huge sales that conventional wisdom suggested should be theirs. With the 1983 release of Oblivion, the band had signed with Passport Records and the future seemed to be full of possibilities for success. Unfortunately, internal tensions were beginning to splinter the band, making the recording of POV a difficult process. Two tracks were recorded for Trivia, a compilation, and that was it for the band -- and for their label, Passport, which sank along with JEM Records, a major independent distributor, with the consequence that this is the first major CD release for these cuts. Altogether a pity, because Utopia consistently made excellent music. Rundgren's influence was felt throughout, of course, but the input from Willie Wilcox, Kasim Sulton and Roger Powell effectively redirected Rundgren and provided Utopia with its own musical identity. In some respects it could be said that Utopia's downfall was due to its members' insistence on intelligence -- there is a great deal of clever material here. This Rhino two-disc compilation is an excellent place to start investigating the Utopia catalog -- and an excellent place to conclude.

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