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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Build a better mouse trap; the world might pass you by yet., 3 Mar 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Tubes (Audio CD)
Some thirty years ago a young man in England fell asleep with his radio on. When he woke up several hours later the track 'Don't touch me there' was playing, and without even needing to be told, he knew it was The Tubes. This music is witty, intelligent, skillful, tuneful - everything that we are told rock music should aspire to - yet who has ever heard of The Tubes today? This group had extraordinary musical talent; they could write great songs, and perform them astoundingly well. Trouble was they were there just on the cusp of punk, when all that stuff wasn't worth puss. The media concentrated on the partial nudity of the female singer Re Styles (Shock! Horror!) in fact, the good burghers of Portsmouth (where I lived at the time) went to a Tubes show in Southampton and decided to ban the act from their own scutty town on the grounds that it was 'much too cheeky'for the retarded inhabitants of Portsmouth. Shortly afterwards one of said officials was arrested for kerb-crawling. Life was ever thus. The list of tracks that are so good is almost endless - buy this album first, then go and collect the rest. If you like Steely Dan, you'll dig this lot.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delicious pseudo-punk, 7 April 2004
By 
Andy Millward (Tiptree, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Tubes (Audio CD)
Despite rumours to the contrary, the Tubes were actually a highly talented group of musicians masquerading as a punkish band of anthem-makers. And no late 70's anthem was ever more grandiloquent, nor so ridiculously catchy as White Punks On Dope. And it sounds fresh to this day, testament to the longevity of well-crafted pop songs.
Tongues firmly in their cheeks, the Tubes made some of the finest musical satire of their era - not least the fantastic takeoff of the empassioned latin melodrama, Malaguena Salarosa and the psychoanalysis of empty American consumerism within What Do You Want From Life. But their first collection has many hidden depths, and is considerably subtler than White Punks might suggest. Fee Waybill, possessing a greater range than most pop singers (right the way up to strangulated falsetto), leads from the front, but there is some fine guitar playing and effective song-writing in evidence throughout.
Why only 4 stars? Only 8 tracks with no extras for the CD version is a bit mean, and one or two of those are slightly anonymous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `Theatrical Rock' Par Excellence, 21 Nov 2013
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Tubes (Audio CD)
Where, really, do The Tubes fit in, in the context of contemporary (rock) music? Of course, if one were merely to take account of their most famous song, White Punks On Dope, then surely the answer is obvious. But, I'm not so sure. Now, I know the US take on 'punk rock' was rather different than the UK's, but really, Fee Waybill on 18-inch(?) platforms and bedecked in glitter - surely drainpipes and leather jackets should the order of the day? Instead, I would tend to trace the band's roots to the likes of The New York Dolls (who, for me, were always more 'rock', with elements of theatre, than 'punk') or, even more closely, Alice Cooper (Ezrin-era, of course, when Cooper's band were, in my book, simply one of the most underrated ever). I mean, for every Mondo Bondage or Boy Crazy (read School's Out or Under My Wheels) there was a masterpiece like What Do You Want From Life (read Alma Mater).

Taking this comparison one step further, I was actually surprised not to read Bob Ezrin's name as producer here but that other 'legend of the trade' (and Like A Rolling Stone organ player), Al Kooper. No matter, some of the arrangements here (or 're-arrangements', as the album sleeve amusingly states Kooper's role to be) could be straight off School's Out with their sophisticated string and horn arrangements, and general level of diversity. Take album opener Up From The Deep, for example, with one of the least auspicious album openings you could imagine, before flowering into something special (not far from Grand Finale, in fact), or the (almost too) hippyish Space Baby (synthesiser and 'Rundgren-like' guitar), with its astonishing 'theatrical interlude' (like something from The Rocky Horror Show) - simply brilliant. Then, 'Side 1' is completed by the pseudo-soul beat and gorgeous melody of Haloes and the infectious Latin rhythms (detectable elsewhere, too) of Malaguena Salerosa - Pedro Galindo and Elpidio Ramirez's 'Mexican standard', the only non-original song here and a real treat.

But, I guess it's the songs on 'Side 2' that really sealed the band's reputation. Kicking off with, for me, the closest to 'punk' here (but still Cooper-esque) Mondo Bondage, with its powerhouse riff and Waybill exhorting, 'Roped and hogtied, been tied up in knots that's all I got'. Thereafter, we have one of the great segues from Waybill's (unsubtle) screech into the sublime What Do You Want From Life, a masterclass in soulful melody and rhythm (there's Bill Spooner doing his 'Todd' again), and concluding with Waybill's infectious list of 'life consumables' (Rosemary's Baby and Winnebagos are forever linked to this great song, for me). Thence another great segue into the rocking tale of female promiscuity, Boy Crazy ('Failed your English and Biology, but you learned the facts of life from A to Z') and concluding the album with the seven minute epic of middle-class addiction and rebellion, White Punks On Dope ('Other dudes are living in the ghetto, but born in Pacific Heights don't seem much betto', - really Fee, you can't do that for a rhyme!).

An album that will live with me forever.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good, 5 Feb 2013
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Replaced my vinyl copy. Great fun album, tongue in cheek lyrics, and great music, good live too back in the 70's. I am an old git though!
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is eleven...we're on..., 22 Nov 2014
By 
Stephen E. Andrews "Writer" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Tubes (Audio CD)
The Tubes formed in the early 1970s and adopted San Francisco as their hometown. The legend runs that the band came together after two groups moved into the same rented house, had a fight and while some of the musicians quit the homestead, the remaining survivors melded into The Tubes. These two bands were (1) The Red WHite and Blues Band (maybe they were called Arizona by that time though) and featured Roger Steen (guitar/vocals), Prairie Prince (drums) and a bassist, plus (2) The Beans, who were comprised of Bill 'Sputnik' Spooner (guitar/vocals), Vince Welnick (keyboards), Rick Anderson (bass) and a drummer. Therefore, the initial Tubes lineup was Steen/Prince/Spooner/Welnick/Anderson. This quintet was later joined by John Waldo 'Fee' Waybill (originally a roadie for the band) on lead vocals and Michael Cotten (a friend of Prince's, who, like the drummer was an accomplished desiger/artist) on synthesizers. So with three lead vocalists - Waybill, Steen and Spooner - The Tubes were born, later adding a model/dancer renamed Re Styles on second vocals.

One more preparatory footnote: At least some of The Tubes hailed from Phoenix, which was,as one of them said on a 1978 BBC 'Arena' Tv show about Theatre Rock (that also featured Bowie) 'So oppressively hot that all we did was stay in and watch TV,'. The result was a band hugely influenced by TV and the mass media, so much so that their songs - esepcially in the early days - were highly satirical, like those of thr Alice Cooper group. It's worth noting here that the man generally regarded as being the "leader" of the band, Sputnik Spooner, went to the same school as three members of Alice Cooper. Incidentally, Bill also played with The Trips and The XLs and Condello, whose sole album is now available on CD.

Using outrageous props, costumes, stunts and other theatrical accoutrements live (including groundbreaking use of video cameras and screens), The Tubes soon built up a reputation as a cult act on the live circuit in California. Early material wasn't always as conceptually strong as the songs that made the cut for the first two albums (as archive CDs 'Dawn of the Tubes' and 'Mondo Birthmark' have revealed), but A & M eventually signed the massively talented group, whose stunning musical abilities were often obscured by the focus on the stage show. Often compared to Zappa for their mix of progressive/[psychedelic techno-flash and satire and Utopia for their quirky style and that prog-psych t-flash (again), I've always found The Tubes to be be more spiritually and sonically akin to Alice Cooper. They have elements of True Glam - which Alice Cooper pioneered alongside The Stooges and before Bowie and Roxy Music did - but are not usually very gritty or crude musically, unlike the Punk Rock movement which they have so often erroneously been allied with but happily exploited and satirised come '77='78. The Tubes' take on the American Way is as celebratory and damning as that of Alice Cooper, their humour meant very seriously, As a perfect example of doublethink, simultaneously deriding yet hailing the horrible shiny glamour of consumerism and tat, The Tubes are unsurpassed. If you think they are just a joke, you're wrong - they're very serious about their satire and have said so in interviews.

The band have also said they could never agree on what songs to issue on albums, so they left it to the producer. Their debut was laid down by Al Kooper, who did a creditable job, delivering a huge production, lacing the 6 musicians with immense string and horn sessions of the kind that graced (or destroyed according to your view) 'The Soft Parade' by The Doors. As much as I love the voluminousness of "The Tubes", it is a little lacking in space and ambience compared to the much better produced followup ("Young and Rich"). However, Kooper was lucky to be able to select what are almost certainly the bands' most memorable iconic and affecting numbers for this magnificent debut.

After a characterful, unforgettable and 'what were they thinking of' introduction, opening cut 'Up From The Deep' acts as an entirely fitting overture to the proceedings. This is classic Tubes - over the top, interesting, never sitting still for a monute, yet with a musicality and melodic core that leaves pointless prog noodling standing. Melodic themese that are reprised in tracks later in the album (such as 'Mondo Bondage' and 'White Punks') are present here. There's a brief vocal from Sputnik, that sets out the bands' stall as theatrical rock entertainers and his gravely voice is immaculately selected here. Alternative live versions of 'Up From The Deep' come up on the concert album "What do you want from live?" and the once-a-bootleg "Don't Touch" (better known as "Darted in my own Armchair".

After the track builds to a crescendo, it fades over the introductory strings of 'Haloes', these days my favourite song on the album. For many years after I first bought this album in 1977, 'Haloes' was the song I often used to skip, feeling it was the most conventional track and of less interest that the rest. Sung by Spooner, with backing from Steen and Waybill (though written by Steen), this sunny, multi-textured psychedelic mid-tempo number is the very essence of sunny, optimistic, acid-prog, with marvellous, infectious guitar lines, thumping double-bass drumming and majestic orchestral backing. I can't be objective about this magnificent, strip-crusing bit of lysergic bliss, I love it too much. Sheer genius.

Next up is 'Space Baby', some of which is sung by Sputnik, some by Fee. If you want to know who is singing what, the opening lines of teh first two verses (the lyrics which address the Space Baby) are sung by Sputnik, while Fee takes the part of the Space Baby and sings the responses and all the leads from the middle of the song on, with Sputnik on second vocals. It's a multi-facetted, expressive Science Fiction song with numerous tempo changes, a wild keyboard solo, lovely synth effects (if you love truly great analogue synth playing, you'll really dig early Tubes, as Mike Cotten is up there with Eno and the guys from Hawkwind- in fact, I feel he's the best pure synthesist of the era and I say that having owned and played such instruments myself). This cut is typical of the Tubes, whom I'd describe as 'Grandiose' rather than 'Pompous'. Yes, the ARE excessive and expressionistic, but with such verve and colour that they never feel overpowering, but instead deliver their ideas with finesse - baroque, but never overblown.

I'll just point out here (again) that Sputnik is the primary vocalist on the first three cuts, as his status as the driving force behind the band in their greatest period (the initial A & M trilogy) was in danger of being forgotten as Fee became more dominant from 'Remote Control' onwards.

'Malaguena Salerosa' is baffling but superb - a Mexican mariachi/flamenco blast of Spanish Passion, it's as effervescent as it is absurd. You'll either love it or hate it, but for me it's like watching a Spaghetti Western in drag, but in a good way. Fee takes lead vocals here.

The remaining tracks make up what was side 2 of the original vinyl album. It has to be said that what comes next is pretty devastating, desperate, cruel, vile, colourful and breathtaking. Arguably a moral critique of the death of affect,shallowness, decadence and ugliness of corporate, consuemrist, sensation obsessed America, you can taste the hollowness and despair - and it is all wrapped up in music that is at times frighteningly smooth and accomplished, other times harsh, grating and astonishingly savage. 'Mondo Bondage' is lyrically about S & M - and musically it is too. It's very difficult to describe, so I won't even try, but it features grinding riffs, impassioned choruses, tension and release and whenever I listen to it, I feel like I've been tied up and whipped - and what's worrying is that it's all enjoyable. Feeling kid of dirty, the listener is then sucked into the game-show nightmare of 'What Do You Want From Life?' a paen against materialism that pulls no punches. The musical arrangement here is lush and fascinating, as it is throughout the album. You may laugh at Fee's varispeed litany at the end, but really, this is tragic stuff.

The penultimate cut is the harrowing 'Boy Crazy', a searing indictment of female teen promiscuity and vacuousness that makes Meat Loaf's 'Paradise by the dashboard light' seem like a vomit bag of hypocrasy. It has to be said though, that there's (maybe) an element of jealous moralising in the song, which actually makes it all the more powerful. It also has one of the best and most compelling guitar riffs in the history of rock, which live was one of the most exciting things any music fan could ever hope to hear - it's full of urgency, occassion and vinegar, just magic. This is probably my favourite cut on the album alongside 'Haloes', but its grim stuff.

The album closes with the full, uncensored version of anthem 'White Punks on Dope' (although a full 6:45 version was issued as both a 7" and 12" single in the UK, it was lyrically censored, Fee's desperate cry of "I'm ****ed up," - a drug reference -and a harrowing utterance of "Thank you Jesus!" both excised from the release bound for the charts). This track, more than anything else, is what led to The Tubes' affiliation with Punk Rock. Inspired by something country rock pioneer Gram Parsons allegedly said about Jefferson Airplane many, many years earlier ('Oh, they're just white punks on dope,'), 'WPOD' is a tale of rich kids getting high -and eventually addicted- in Hollywood. Live, 'WPOD' was sung by Fee in his persona of 'Quay Lewd' - who was a parody of English Glam Stars and those who tacked themselves onto the movement, like Rod Stewart (the Glam scene was big at Rodney Bingenheimer's English Discotheque on the Sunset Strip in LA circa 73-75). Written by Spooner, Steen and their friend Mike Evans, 'WPOD' found a sequel in 'Young and Rich', the song which became the title number of the bands' second LP.

Although it's actually more about Glitter Rock than Punk, The Tubes' released 'WPOD' as a single in the UK to tie-in with the Punk explosion in 77. Creeping to #28 in the UK charts and accompanied by a headline-grabbing tour that promised lots of sex and violence onstage, this was a masterstoke that showed The Tubes' simulataneous understanding and exploitation of the absurdity and value of mass media sensationalism. The tabloids ate it up and all of a sudden, The Tubes were a Punk band, not a technoflash psychedelic prog unit, whose music was more like that of 801 than The Clash (or even The Tubes' chums The Stranglers). As for the song itself, it's huge, over-the-top, great fun and full of calla nd response hooks that are impeccably arranged. You haven't lived until you've sang along to it live with the band standing in the front row of the concert hall.

Colourful, witty, abrasive, multi-layered and dazzling in its complexity, 'The Tubes' is one of the great debut albums, up there with 'Roxy Music', 'The Velvet Underground and Nico', 'The Doors', 'Stranglers IV(Rattus Norvegicus)' and anything else you might want to name that isn't by The Beatles, Dylan and The Stones. It's a unique experience, performed by brilliant sylists who have no real peers in ther annals of American rock - the Tubes are instantly recognisable as inidividual instrumentalists, even when they are playing straight ahead rock - and anyone who really loves 70s rock music and has a brain in thier head needs to own this album. If you're a fan of intelligent, timbrally broad music like that of Bowie, Hawkwind, Roxy Music, King Crimson, you'll really get off on this.

Sheer genius.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid, 1 July 2013
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This review is from: The Tubes (MP3 Download)
Magnificent proto-punk-prog-funk-satire with hints of Zappa, Rundgren & Bowie. Frankly stunning and perfect for any fans of Bobby Conn out there.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worth it if only for 'White Punks on Dope'?, 15 April 2014
This review is from: The Tubes (Audio CD)
Well here I go again, yet another CD which merely replaces the original vinyl version. However, it's worth every penny if only for the seminal 'White Punks on Dope'. The Tubes were never likely to make the premier league but were still responsible for another classic - 'Don't Touch Me There', sadly not on this album though. Seems other reviewers have made the other salient points so that's it from me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars onlyme, 19 Jan 2014
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This review is from: The Tubes (Audio CD)
nostalgia has arrived once more in the shape of the tubes , I remember them well late seventies early eighties seemed to be loads of people in the group and they kept putting odd outfits on . their seminal piece being "white punks on dope" though they are not a drugs type band
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Tubes, 15 Mar 2014
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I choose this rating because it's an old album...one I've recently discovered and here it was on Amazon. It was a really quick and easy process to download....into Amazon Cloud Player which I also downloaded (also a quick and easy process) and then transfered into I Tunes.....and onto a disc for the car....and then onto my phone. Brilliant, quick and easy to understand. The whole thing took less than 5 minutes.
I'll be getting more albums again soon!!!!
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