16 Reasons To Love The Tubes
From the off, this SF rock band have given the world great music and truckloads of tongue-in-cheek humour. As befell Frank Zappa in some quarters, some good citizens of our planet just don’t get it…….but their favourite acts have often been parodied and belittled by this bunch of smart alecs. Here we present some of Pete’s choices of the group’s many recordings. Please don’t miss the chance to see this splendid ensemble if they’re anywhere near your town……
What Do You Want From Life?
A cut included on a 12 inch single back in the day. This spirited game show parody lifts off and never relents, recording a surreal list of consumer items available to punters..once learned it’s hard not to gabble along with barker Fee Waybill! An edgy arrangement adds to the fun.
TV Is King
Not everyone ‘got’ the ‘Prime Time’ album. The deliberately gaudy production made the tracks all the more alluring to this listener. Here, a warping full-blooded tempo introduces a syncopated riff for the vocal. Electronic story-telling and choppily emphatic. The fuzz guitars hang like greedy crows over the song as it pounds along.
Up From The Deep
The reverse cover photo of the gorgeous Re Styles squeezing through lubricated tyres made the first Tubes album release as intriguing as the sonic contents. It’s full of punchy songs, many of which are deservedly performed to this day. Witty use of synthesizers helped – a million miles away from the pompous overuse by contemporary groups ( ELP anyone?) and of course set against fiery rock guitars…
This opener to the first record sets a mysterious tone with a mutated tango timing..
Own up time – I stole this tale of alienation (and more likely paranoia),setting it to a jazzy tempo and keeping the words intact, to perform over the years in my bands or solo. Anyone asking about the song’s origins gets the full Tubes plug from yours truly…..it’s from the ‘Prime Time’ set, btw
White Punks On Dope
In grotesque Twisted Sister type garb, Waybill sends up the indulgent and not-so-smart rock acts that think they are SO special – an irresistible chorus stomps the number along, with Prairie Prince military drumming. Ace! Still!
My Head Is Only My House When It Rains
Oh yes..the Captain Beefheart song. The Tubes had an affinity with Don Van Vliet and here they take their time with the tempo and keep the arrangement subtle. The Tubes’ take on tenderness.
Maybe one of the best examples of the group using musical dynamics on a song which became a popular set inclusion. The drumming on this cut is really good, the synths wail and a cranky time signature brings in the harsh vocal. A definite nod to FZ but with its own lumbering charm.
To be found on the ‘What Do You Want From Live’ album, these musos cut their way through moody TV tec themes, embracing Dragnet, the driving Peter Gunn, a stealthy Perry Mason and The Untouchables..suddenly, you’re transported back to your family living room on a Saturday night, pleading to be allowed to stay up later….or maybe that’s just me, then?
Don’t Touch Me There
The best ever pisstake of the Phil Spector overdone and overproduced ballad style. Bar none.
Smoke (La Vue En Fumer)
Possible Waybill’s finest moment….his voice carries the acrid tobacco fumes the song concerns itself with…no other outfit ( bar Zappa and Holland’s excellent Gruppo Sportivo ) gets close to carrying this kind of exercise off. It seems to parody the ‘West Side Story’ style of lyric delivery, which I dislike. Maybe that’s why this track gets to me.
Love Will Keep Us Together
Hmm..the Neil Sedaka mid-tempo sugargfest played pretty straight BUT on the ‘Live In America ‘ incarnation it’s prefaced by a rough-hewn version of the Captain’s ‘Gimme Dat Harp, Boy’ which rocks along with the staggered Muddy riff to the fore.
She’s A Beauty
The chattering synth figure arrives just ahead of the fuzztone guitars. The verses are delivered over ringing arpeggio chords. The chorus is catchy. It was a hit. I always thought the vocal should have been recorded better and given some delay. But this is a good example of the more commercial Tubes.
I Don’t Want To Wait Any More
This song aches. Rock ballads often bring out the worst in an act and the treacle oozes out of the PA as the assembled halfwits hold up their lighters or illuminated phones. The mood of this one is quasi-mysterious and the vocal paced well against ominous chording. The chorus is up there with the best in song, absolutely lovely.
No Not Again
Edgy pace and a raspy vocal. The chugging guitars are archetypal Tubes fare and the beats a mixture of live drumming and Devo-style automatic. Strong melody, boy do this lot have plenty of those ?
Drivin’ All Night
The ‘TRASH’ albums rounds up oddments and I think this was single or intended single. A fine rock number with sinister guitar figures, another memorable chorus. The guitars sound purposeful and dangerous, excellent stuff indeed.
Only The Strong Survive
This sounds more and more like a Hendrix outtake, allowing for the different vocal style. A cracker of a song, with fine chorale and hypnotic bassline. The guitar has that acid rock swing that Jimi and Randy California often utilised ; the solo floats over the bridge with delay and a touch of flanging…love it !
…..hell. I have many more favourites but that’ll do for now, kids
The Tubes will be embarking on a 9-date 40th Anniversary UK Tour in August 2015 at the following venues:
Bristol, The Fleece Monday August 3 (SOLD OUT)
Brighton Concorde 2 Tuesday August 4 Tickets available at: www.concorde2.co.uk
Southampton, The Brook Thursday August 6 Tickets available at: www.the-brook.com
London Clapham Grand Friday August 7 Tickets available at: www.claphamgrand.com
Manchester Club Academy Saturday August 8 Tickets available at: www.manchesteracademy.net
Glasgow, The Art School Sunday August 9 Tickets available at: www.theartschool.co.uk
Leeds Brudenell Arts Club Tuesday August 11 Tickets available at: www.brudenellsocialclub.co.uk
Edinburgh Liquid Rooms Wednesday August 12 Tickets available at: www.liquidroom.com
Wolverhampton Robin 2 Thursday August 13 Tickets available at: www.therobin.co.uk
For more information visit: http://www.thetubes.com/
(Thanks to Glenn Sargeant and Peter Noble at Noble PR for help with this piece. Photo credit goes to Janice Kang)