The years covered on this three-CD/one-DVD set are the peak years of Todd Rundgren's stardom, when he was not only touring on his own but with his often bizarre arena-prog outfit Utopia
. Todd Rundgren at the BBC: 1972-1982
tips heavily in favor of Utopia, with two of its CDs devoted to BBC Radio One In Concert
sessions from 1975 and 1977, while the DVD contains two Old Grey Whistle Test
appearances with the band. There is some solo Todd, though, including a lengthy Old Grey Whistle Test
from 1982 (several songs here were originally not broadcast) but the most interesting thing here is the earliest material, a BBC Radio One In Concert
from 1972 that captures Todd alone at the piano. He's joshing with the audience, particularly on "Piss Aaron," where he spends time discussing the verses at length, and he takes the piss out of "Be Nice to Me," claiming it's a silly song. Silliness can be heard elsewhere, including a broadly campy version of "Something's Coming" from West Side Story
, and that helps lighten a load that winds up getting slightly leaden due to the long stretches of Utopia at their densest. This era of Todd remains divisive -- some love it, while others will never warm to it -- and that keeps this set from being a must for fanatics, yet there's no denying that there's plenty of endearing, enduring eccentricity from one of pop's great madmen to be heard.