Good but almost not worth the high price tag
Review by Gareth Davies-Morris (Switch to
Not so much a rarities collection (if that means a set of unreleased tracks or demo takes) but rather an alternative to the other live albums out there (Back To The Bars, Redux, etc.). According to the brief liner notes by the mighty Todd, this is all there is as far as rare tracks go, so we should be happy with the selection! The songs are mostly live versions from the Runt tour (1971) through The Road To Utopia tour (1979), with the disc front-loaded by Runt-era takes on Be Nice To Me and Broke Down & Busted, as well as a Utopia mk I version of the Nazz tune Open My Eyes. We also get two studio demos: early versions of It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference (which you might call It Couldn't Have Been More Different!) from Something/Anything, and Where Does The Time Go, eventually from One Long Year. The six versions of S/A are actually original vocal performances (for radio promos, I assume) to advertise the album. However, they're not talking spots at all, but cool 'a cappella' snippets that send up (or celebrate, depending on how you look at it) doo-wop, soul, scat, and other styles - all quite authentically, and in 16 seconds each, for the most part.
The quality is excellent, between Todd's always superior production and the crystal-clear Japanese mastering (20-bit blah blah blah). The package has separate liner notes from Todd and co-producer Mark McKenna; the Japanese booklet has English lyrics and a nice chart (also in English) showing musicians, recording dates, and locations. A bonus is the final set of four tracks listed as Sequences 1-4 with no credits or other details, which are almost certainly outtakes from Initiation, being intense, sometimes ambient synth instrumentals in the vein of A Treatise On Cosmic Fire, with Sequence 1 even recalling Shaft Goes To Outer Space (from Todd). All in all, for the Rundgren completist only -- but for such a person, well worth acquiring.
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