Sunday, March 23, 2014

Utopia - Feet Don't Fail Me Now

The story of Utopia is intertwined with Todd Rundgren, but the band evolved over time to become more than just an outlet for Rundgren's more adventurous music.  Fresh off his pop successes, Rundgren formed Utopia (originally called Todd Rundgren's Utopia) in 1973 to perform progressive rock.  By 1977, the band membership stabilized with Rundgren (guitar), Kasim Sulton (bass), Roger Powell (keyboards) and Willie Wilcox (drums), and this lineup would remain until the group disbanded.

The consistent lineup helped Utopia to become a real group, and by the early 1980's they had a sound that was somewhat distinct from Rungdren's, helped by the fact that other members wrote and sang material.  Unfortunately the group had label problem, which likely limited their commercial success.  It also didn't help that they were viewed as a progressive rock band at a time when that segment was seen as out of date.

In spite of these issues, "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" was a minor hit for the band, charting at #82, while the self-titled album peaked at #84.  The song and album were undoubtedly helped by the video, which went into heavy rotation on MTV for a while, due to its avant garde (at the time) vision of the band members as insects.

Unfortunately, Utopia was not able to really break through, and Rundgren broke up the band in 1986, though there have been periodic reunions since then.

Note that Todd Rundgren made an appearance on ERV for his underrated 1982 solo single, "Hideaway."

Cool trivia fact:  The song title refers to the "feets don't fail me now" catch phrase that dates back to the early 20th century vaudeville and chitlin' circuit performances, but its exact origins are unknown.

Cool trivia fact #2: Utopia is an official one hit wonder, as only 1980's "Set Me Free" (#27) broke the top 40 on the singles charts.

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