TODD RUNDGREN'S UTOPIA
Benefit For Moogy Klingman
(Cleopatra Records)

 

Music fans will also note that 2020 was the year that Buzzy Linhart died at 76. It’s been a tough year for the world but the fabled Cleopatra Records organization softens the blow a bit with Benefit For Moogy Klingman by Todd Rundgren’s Utopia. I mention Buzzy because perhaps his most famous trademark song, “Friends”, featured on this benefit concert, was actually a co-write between Buzzy and Moogy Klingman, the lsatter the subject of this most opportune 4 CD + 2 DVD box set. The concert was a planned benefit / reunion of sorts for the late Moogy – when he was still alive. DVD one and the first two CDs features a reunion of the original Todd Rundgren's Utopia band, spotlighting their often overlooked, self-titled 1974 Lp debut. Looking back 9 years, (2011 to 2020) it's amazing for Todd, in this year of Buzzy’s passing, to reflect upon the golden years of his 1974 rock fusion classic. Recorded in the dead of winter in Manhattan on January 29th, 2011, the concert ostensibly starts off as a reunion with Todd and Moogy, revisiting some long lost Long Island, ’73 college era scene classics, sounding like a class reunion of two old friends. Even though he was already ill, in early 2011, Moogy is actually in top form, playing a range of keyboards, and on the early tracks in the concert, Moogy prods Todd to higher heights on a moving, acoustic cover of “Never Never “Land”. After the first four or five tracks, the album goes into the realm of incipient instrumental prog-rock fusion circa 1974, with Todd’s occasional vocal, although clearly made for fusion fans. The wild thing is that the first concert from January 29, 2011 was first a benefit for Moogy but after Moogy got worse and couldn’t play anymore, and then died, it was determined by Todd and the other co-founding Utopia members, that a whole tour would be planned. The low key “you gotta have friends” type vibe on the January 2011 concert led to a full-blown stadium tour which, as you can see and hear, on the November 2011 concert, makes for truly eye-opening concert footage. It’s a real credit to Todd that he was able to put this whole historic event together and true to form, and although from 2011, he’s at the top of his game here. As great as the DVD's are, the audio on the four CD's is near perfect sounding. Thankfully, although he was seriously ill even by the time of the January 2011 show, Moogy played quite well and you can see during the intricate, instrumental fusion part of the first show he was praying and it worked. In the meticulously annotated booklet, Todd recounts, painfully, how much more sick Moogy got before he died on 11/15/2011. Although minus the spontaneous reunion vibes from Todd and Moogy on the first concert, the second show on the box set (from November 18th 2011) is a real trip, with all the musicians honoring Moogy’s music live in Peekskill, NY in a larger concert venue than the Highline was. A virtual flashback, and a memory of a truly fabulous time in music history, Benefit For Moogy Klingman, starring Todd honoring the late great Moogy, is time well spent for rock and fusion ears. www.cleorecs.com

 

 

 
   
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