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Todd Rundgren - The Desktop Collection/2nd Wind Live
Image Entertainment/Warner Vision . R4 . COLOR . 64 mins . PG . PAL


Todd Rundgren is probably not too familiar to most, even though he has a massive catalogue of albums to his credit, both as a solo artist and with his band Utopia. He has also worked as a producer to artists such as Meat Loaf and XTC. Many will only have ever heard of his most famous song Can We Still Be Friends. A self-proclaimed hippy, he is also regarded as a maverick in the music industry with undoubted talent as a singer and musician, being accomplished on many instruments. He has also shown a great love of computers and electronic music and this comes across strongly in his video clips.

This release sees two programs on the one DVD, good value you may be thinking, and that all depends on what you class as value for money. The first part of this release is the recording sessions for his 2nd Wind album and the second part is a series of video clips.

2nd Wind Live Recording Sessions
Being the experimentalist he is, Rundgren decided for this project to have a live audience sitting in on his recording session. Recorded at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco in 1990 over several nights, the audience was privileged to witness this unique occasion, the recording of his 28th album. Running for a brief 36:06, Rundgren explains to the audience the meaning behind several songs and what he hopes to achieve with this album. The actual tracks featured are Change Myself, Love Science, Who’s Sorry Now, The Smell of Money, If I Have to Be Alone, Love in Disguise, Kindness, Public Servants, Gaya’s Eyes and 2nd Wind. Taking into account the total running time of this program and the extensive dialogue, the actual musical parts are very brief and fans expecting to see a whole song performed will be disappointed. For those not familiar with his work, it does give a good insight into what he is about and also gives a brief view of his unique style of music.

The whole program is shown by way of four separate cameras, showing the artist and band from every angle. All footage is shown at once, splitting the screen into four segments, which could cause major problems for viewers with small televisions. This could have been a good way to show this event, but taking into account that much of the camera work is out of focus from zooming most of the time and the fact that every time a band member is zoomed in on they feel the need to pull stupid faces, a much better outcome could have been achieved. A good start towards that end result would have been some decent editing.

The Desktop Collection
This second part of the DVD is made up of six videos that are predominantly made with the use of computer graphics. Although most are a little strange, Rundgren's fascination with computer graphics comes across well. The songs included here that are featured in the recording sessions also sound a lot better after their final production work. It won't be everyone’s cup of tea, but the images shown are very interesting to watch even if the viewer doesn’t enjoy the music. The videos contained are Change Myself, Theology, Fascist Christ, Property, Our Friend the Brain and Want of a Nail.


Presented in full frame and therefore not 16x9 enhanced, the best way to describe the video transfer is to first split it into each program. For the recording sessions, there are no major problems apart from the constant bad camera work of the bottom right camera. This is forever zooming in and then attempting to focus, leaving the viewer feeling blurry eyed. A few problems are also noticeable on the bottom left camera, but these also appear to be problems caused by the source material and not the transfer. Blacks are generally very deep and aliasing is only a minor annoyance. Grain is minimal and the colour palette used is not too vibrant.

Picture quality for the video clips is much better. Colours are vibrant and there are no problems, with blacks again being deep. Aliasing is a little more noticeable here and there is no low-level noise. No subtitles are supplied for either program and there is no layer change on this single layer disc.

Audio supplied for this release is singular Dolby Digital 2.0, which is adequate, but nothing more. Although clear throughout, the audio does come across as slightly muffled during the recording sessions. Audio for the video clips is much better, without being spectacular. Overall the music contained on this release deserves better, but again this could be due to the source material used. Ntaurally the surrounds and subwoofer are not called into play, making this appear more as a documentary than a showcase of his music. Perhaps that is the intention?

There is one extra included on this release in the form of an Interview with Todd Rundgren. A series of questions are put to him and he offers his responses in this brief extra running for 3:28 in total.

Overall this is one for Todd Rundgren fans only, as newcomers to his music would be much better suited listening to a compilation CD to get an idea of his music. Having said that, there is also a definite suspicion that only diehard fans would enjoy this as the running length and actual music quantity are below what most expect from a DVD nowadays. The concept of taping a recording session is a great idea and to a degree it has been done well, but the final presentation on DVD is surely only a very small portion of what was actually filmed. Overall this is not very good value, but something fans may wish to own for prosperity.

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  •   And I quote...
    "One for fans only, this DVD is lacking in running time and extras..."
    - Adrian Turvey
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