In Part 1 (above) of a two-part special, Fee Waybill chats about the formative years of The Tubes. (First broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, 28 June 2015)
Part 2 (above) discusses the band’s progress from the early-1980s to date. (First broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, 5 July 2015).
Caroline International [Release date 11.08.17]
Formed in the early 70s, the Tubes were a San Francisco based rock band renowned for their outrageous live shows (in their early years this featured simulated pornography). This set collects their A&M era albums, basically their first four studio albums and the live What Do You Want From Live set.
Their 1975 The Tubes debut is now considered a debut, and features some post West Coast and pre-new wave influences. The line-up consisted of vocalist Fee Waybill, guitarists Bill Spooner and Roger Steen, keyboard players Michael Cotten and Vince Welnick, bassist Rich Anderson and drummer Praire L’Emprere Prince, as well as string and horn arrangements, and was produced by the legendary Al Kooper.
It’s quite a full sound and changes direction on a whim, and features the genuine classics ‘What Do You Want From Life’ and the hit single ‘White Punks On Dope’.
The following year’s Young And Rich has a richer sound and manages to hint at pre New Wave having bypassed punk. The twin guitars and twin keyboards work well, the guitars at time producing quite a haunting sound. Sometimes the toes are dipped into funk rock and MOR / lounge, but done with a punkish sleaze. ‘Stand Up And Shout’ is a good up-tempo number that stands out, a real rocker.
At other times there’s what could nod at a pre-curser to bands like Talking Heads. ‘Don’t Touch Me There’ was a minor hit State-side.
1977’s Now, whose recording was a complex affair (I’ll let you read the extensive booklet to find out more) featured less satirical and the addition of more musicians in the studio, and an attempt to get a more live feel in the studio. It’s a solid and big (if a little easy) sound, and nowhere near as outrageous as the stage show was becoming. There is an excellent cover of Captain Beefheart’s ‘My Head Is My Only House Unless It Rains’, and Don Van Vleit appears elsewhere on the album uncredited.
The live set What Do You Want From Live is a classic; recorded at the tail end of 1977 at the Hammersmith Odeon and released early the following year, the live feel complements the songs well, the feeling is that of experimental rock meets progressive. Seventeen tracks from across the four albums performed tightly, what more could you want?
1979’s Remote Control would be the band’s last for A&M (bar a compilation or two), and is a pop/rock concept album produced by Todd Rundgren (who provides a new energy as well as playing on the set).
Different it may be, and it’s hardly hard rock, but it’s a really good listen, the kind of pop/rock that Uriah Heep also dabbled in during the 80s.
The Tubes are a band I’ve heard lots about, but never actually listened to, so I found this a great introduction (and just as enjoyable), and I’m sure I won’t be the only one in this boat. A couple of the discs have extra tracks, and given that many of these albums have been out of print for years, on any format, this is as welcome a set for fans and the casual listener, and excellent value too. ****
Review by Joe Geesin
The Tubes are a Featured Artist at Get Ready to ROCK! Radio
Gig review (October, 2016)
The band are special guests of Alice Cooper on tour in the UK 11-16 November 2017.
Listen in to Get Ready to ROCK! Radio…
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Power Plays w/c 11 June 2018
SLEARS Haven (Cargo Records)
SLIMBOY Let It Go (indie)
DANA FUCHS Backstreet Baby (Get Along Records)
THE SURVIVAL CODE Same Skin (indie)
Featured Albums w/c 11 June (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 VEGA Only Human (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 LEE AARON Diamond Baby Blues (indie)
14:00-16:00 TALITHA RISE An Abandoned Orchid House
Albums That Time Forgot (Mon-Fri)
18:00-19:00 BLUE MURDER (1989)
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