Official Bootleg, Vol. 9: Oblivion Tour

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By the release of 1984's Oblivion, Utopia was inching its way toward a sound that was very popular with the mainstream pop bands of the time -- glossy production and electronic drums (a sound popularized by the likes of the Cars and Def Leppard). While the aforementioned groups benefited from this musical approach, Utopia did not -- especially due to the fact that drummer Willie Wilcox helped propel many of the group's tracks before this "electronic makeover." It turns out that on the album's supporting tour, Wilcox merged both traditional drums with electronic ones (which improved many of the cold-sounding Oblivion tracks), as evidenced from Vol. 9 of the ongoing Todd Rundgren/Utopia Official Bootleg series, Oblivion Tour. Although its days as a band were drawing rapidly to a close (Utopia would only issue one more album, 1985's POV), the group sounds in fine form here, as such new tracks as "Cry Baby," "Itch in My Brain," and "Love With a Thinker" (the latter two included here as a medley) turn out to be highlights, as well as such older nuggets as "You Make Me Crazy," "Caravan," and "Last of the New Wave Riders." Oblivion Tour serves as proof that although Utopia may have been running out of steam in the studio, the band was still a force to be reckoned with on-stage until the end. [Note: this CD is either available as an expensive Japanese import or as part of a more affordable box set, 2003's Last of the New Wave Riders. Also, no date or venue information is included.]

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