Saturday, August 22, 2009

Going Back

Todd Rundgren
Back To The Bars (Live)

Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Following a year of Utopia and the completion of The Hermit of Mink Hollow, Todd Rundgren hit the road with a musical retrospective on the advice of Bearsville president Paul Fishkin, who wanted a live greatest-hits record to plug. Ever perverse, that's not exactly what Rundgren delivered. Culled from three shows -- where he was supported by both Utopia and a carefully assembled band at New York's Bottom Line, one at L.A.'s the Roxy, one at Cleveland's the Agora -- the resulting double album Back to the Bars was an idiosyncratic collection of hits and personal favorites, covering many (but not all) of his best songs, from "I Saw the Light," "Couldn't I Just Tell You," "Hello It's Me" and "Real Man" to "The Range War," "Sometimes I Don't Know What to Feel" and "The Verb 'To Love.'" All of the performances are tough and persuasive -- enough so that the songs that sounded like production numbers on record, such as large stretches of A Wizard, A True Star, reveal themselves as effective compositions and often sound a great deal more accessible here. That said, Back to the Bars isn't an ideal introduction to Rundgren, simply because his studio wizardry is one of the main reasons his records are so interesting, yet it is true that the record has enough great songs and quirks to paint an effective portrait of Rundgren's music. As such, it's the rare live album that caters to both the casual and hardcore fan and should be equally enjoyable to either audience.
1 Real Man
2 Love of the Common Man
3 The Verb "To Love"
4 Love in Action
5 A Dream Goes on Forever
6 Sometimes I Don't Know What to Feel
7 The Range War
8 Black and White
9 The Last Ride
10 Cliché
11 Don't You Ever Learn?
12 Never Never Land
13 Black Maria
14 Zen Archer
15 Medley: I'm So Proud/Ooh Baby Baby/La la Means I Love You/I Saw The Light
16 It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference
17 Eastern Intrigue
18 Initiation
19 Couldn't I Just Tell You
20 Hello It's Me

Get some HERE