Review of Todd Rundgren - Live in Chicago ‘91

Review by Anthony McGarrigle (Switch to

Purchased on-line from cdnow this release is pricey but soon repays the listener for his/her faith on the first couple of plays. The material on the double cd ranges from ‘Hello it’s Me’ right through to the ‘Second Wind’ sessions which immediately preceded this release. The immediately striking thing is the quality of the sound and indeed the tightness of the band. My own personal opinion is that the ‘Nearly Human’ album saw Todd perform with the most talented bunch of musicians he ever assembled (with all due respect to Kasim. Roger and Willie who I’m sure could each have graced that band as well!) and this is well illustrated throughout the performances which include excellent A Capella versions of ‘Johnny Jingo’ and ‘Mighty Love’.

Side 1 of the two cd set draws heavily from ‘Nearly Human’ and ‘Second Wind’ with sterling but faithful renditions of various tracks which are also show-cased on the ‘Live in Japan’ video.

Side 2 is more interesting in that it has a recording of ‘Jesse’ a vitriolic attack on right-wing politics and organised religion which this writer had not heard before and also a Marvin Gaye medley with Todd performing “What’s going On?’, ‘Mercy Mercy Me’ and ‘I want You’ beautifully. I don’t think that these are on record anywhere else and they are almost worth the purchase price on their own! Again the other material draws heavily from the recordings referred to above although there is a further smattering of ‘A Capella’ (this time with instruments) while ‘Secret Society’ and ‘Rock Love’ also get an airing.

The recording displays the whole range of the Maestros talent from the orchestral beauty of ‘Kindness’ thru the sublime pop of ‘Parallel Lines’ and ‘Love of the Common Man’, to the white soul of ‘The Want of a Nail’, the A Capella ‘Johnny Jingo’ to the power rock of ‘Unloved Children’ and ‘Public Servant’. As stated above the standard of performance and sound quality are superb and there is more than 2 hours of music here to enjoy. If ‘Back to the Bars’ is the definitive live Todd 70s’ selection then ‘Live in Chicago’ is the equivalent for the 80s.

Go Get It!!!

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