Utopia “Utopia”


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#444 in the Series) is the self-titled 1982 release from Utopia

1982 was a weird year for Utopia. They switched record labels and were now on “Network Records.” You never heard of them you say? Not surprising, this was the only album they released. At least the one they did decide to release was a fantastic piece of music.

This was my favorite version of Utopia, Todd Rundgren, Roger Powell, John ‘Willie’ Wilcox and Kasim Sulton.  I’ve always like Utopia better than Todd solo because it featured more vocals by Kasim. I think he has a great voice. Yes, I know there were a ton of guests on this disc, but we know who the Utopia guys are.

Another strange thing about this album was that it was called a three sided album. In the original release, there was the standard disc and then an EP added.  Those wacky crazies at Network Records, always keeping you on your toes!

Some great, great tunes here, maybe none better than Kasim’s “Libertine” right from the start.  “Bad Little Actress” is another Kasim vocal. Fine with me. “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” was mostly Roger Powell on lead. He sang the verses while Todd and Kasim were featured on the chorus, more or less. There was a little trading off in there too.

Willie Wilcox gives us a rare lead vocal with “Neck on Up.”  “Say Yeah” was a double lead with Todd and Kasim.  This could have been a Beatles tune. It’s even got some ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs in it.  That isn’t the last time you could say Beatles and Utopia together.  See: Deface the Music.

“Call it What You Will” is another great pop tune led by Kasim. I really don’t think there is a bad track on this album. Find It if you can.

“I’m Looking At You, But I’m Talking To Myself” is all Todd. In fact, it’s one of those classic Todd ballads.  His vocals on songs like this still give me chills. This one’s on par with “It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference” or “Can We Still Be Friends.” “Hammer in My Heart” and “Burn Three Times” are the exact opposite of the previous song. Todd’s rocking here.

“There Goes My Inspiration” finishes the standard album.

Side ‘Three’ starts with another Willie vocal, this time it’s on ‘Princess of the Universe.” Todd refers to ‘Forgotten But Not Gone” as a country tune. That’s pushing it Todd. It is good though.

“Private Heaven” has Kasim on lead vox. This one sounds like nothing else on the album. You can hear it below. I suggest you do.

Todd ends the album with “Chapter and Verse.”

Usually I don’t do song by song run downs.  For this one, why not?

Most of the videos below are from a show in Boston in 1982.  Nearly the whole album is represented live. I’ve added studio renditions to fill out the songs that they didn’t do live, but there wasn’t many.

Todd, isn’t it about time for another Utopia album. With this version of course!

— Larry Carta

Track listing

Side 1

  1. “Libertine”
  2. “Bad Little Actress”
  3. “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now”
  4. “Neck On Up”
  5. “Say Yeah”

Side 2

  1. “Call It What You Will”
  2. “I’m Looking at You But I’m Talking to Myself”
  3. “Hammer in My Heart”
  4. “Burn Three Times”
  5. “There Goes My Inspiration”

Side 3 (unlisted on album sleeve)

  1. “Princess of the Universe”
  2. “Infrared and Ultraviolet”
  3. “Forgotten But Not Gone”
  4. “Private Heaven”
  5. “Chapter and Verse”

 Personnel

Utopia

  • Roger Powell Keyboards, Trumpet, Vocals
  • Willie Wilcox Drums, Vocals
  • Todd Rundgren  Guitar, Vocals
  • Kasim Sulton Bass, Composer, Vocals

Additional Musicians

  • Ralf Basten Vocals
  • George “Funky” Brown Drums
  • Daniel Fischelscher Drums
  • Keith Forsey Drums
  • George Green Drums
  • Edgar Hofmann Saxophone
  • Jim Jackson Keyboards
  • Chris Karrer Violin, Vocals
  • Renate Knaup-Kroetenschwanz  Vocals
  • Peter Kramper Synthesizer
  • Olaf Kübler Synthesizer
  • Andy Marx Guitar
  • Lothar Meid Bass
  • Joe Nay Drums
  • Joe Quick Guitar
  • Falk U. Rogner Keyboards
  • Kristian Schultze Keyboards
  • Siegfried Schwab Guitar
  • John Weinzierl Guitar
  • Rolf Zacher Vocals

Links


Posted by Larry Carta


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