Here is the wacky weird and wild world of The Tubes, circa their debut.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: The Tubes
ALBUM: The Tubes
SERIAL: SP 4534
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Fee Waybill – lead vocals * Vincent Welnick – keyboards * Roger Steen – guitars, vocals * William Spooner – guitars * Prairie Prince – drums * Michael Cotten – synthesizer * Rick Anderson – bass
TRACK LISTING: 01 Up From The Deep * 02 Haloes * 03 Space Baby * 04 Malaguena Salerosa * 05 Mondo Bondage * 06 What Do You Want From Life? * 07 Boy Crazy * 08 White Punks On Dope
WEBLINKS: Site Link
The rambunctious version of ‘White Punks On Dope’ from the 1978 album ‘What Do You Want From Live’ was my initiation to the wonderful world of The Tubes who at the time, I thought were one of the strangest bands on the planet.
Photos of Fee Waybill via Creem magazine sporting a massive dildo in mile-high platforms even in the age of the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’, KISS and The Sex Pistols was seriously fucked up. As was the music, a bizarro mixture of street theater, European art rock and glam, it was unlike anything I had heard before and I was sucked in, like a moth to a flame.
Formed in the epicenter of wacky – San Francisco, The Tubes and their outrageous live act drew local attention as early as 1972 and opening shows for the New York Dolls, Iggy Pop and yes, Led Zeppelin. As well, there was a groundbreaking ‘video demo’ tapped in 1974, which landed Waybill and co a contract with A&M although apparently the record sold better in the UK, notably riding the last vestiges of glitter.
Sounding a whole lot like the Electric Light Orchestra and very proggy on opener ‘Up From The Deep’, this is The Tubes at their least satirical while ‘Haloes’ begins the upward spiral into the witty, off-kilter band we’ve come to expect with its Ennio Morricone meets horn rock weirdness.
‘Space Baby’ nicks David Bowie and it has to said, this was more of a keyboard based album and while it has its share, there’s not a lot of guitar in The Tubes sound at this point.
‘What Do You Want From Life’ was one of three 45’s picked by A&M and received FM air play, mainly for the pop culture references that horribly date the song for anyone under a ‘certain age’ although similarities to the first Steely Dan platter are easy to spot.
And then there’s ‘White Punks On Dope’. An undisputed classic, inspired by The Clash and remains the cornerstone of The Tubes repertoire. Can you imagine what the PMRC or any current quasi-watchdog group would do with a song title like that nowadays?
Coast to coast touring followed with all sorts of shenanigans along the way, including a riot at a Toronto show as well as mis-matched concert bills with The Kinks, Mahavishnu Orchestra, KISS and others in front of audiences who more than likely shell-shocked or elated by what they witnessed.
While The Tubes in the 1980’s became more subdued arena rockers and in turn more successful, I felt the band lost some of the carefree creativity that made them so unique. ‘She’s A Beauty’ still sounds as kick ass as it did in 1983 but I’ll stick with this record and 1979’s Todd Rundgren produced ‘Remote Control’ as the group’s finest moments.
Entire Album (Select Tracks)