The music industry is a crazy place. One year your band's putting on a crazy stage show that equally satirizes and utilizes the grandest excesses of rock, the next minute you've got a hit single with most of the members of Toto for support.
Such is the tale of The Tubes, one of many ambitious, underappreciated bands from the '70s and '80s. During the band's early tenure on A&M from 1975 to 1981, they had a significant following thanks to their funny songs (first single "White Punks on Dope" hit the Top 30 in the U.K. and was covered by Motley Crue) and outsize stage productions (directed by Kenny Ortega, known for other outsize productions like the High School Musical series and Michael Jackson's This is It). Their biggest LP on A&M, 1979's Remote Control, was a biting concept album jabbing at T.V. culture with Todd Rundgren in the producer's chair.
But they left the label broke and dejected after their follow-up to Control was shelved. The Tubes made the sweeping decision to retool their image: the stage show was toned down and the songs were poppier, thanks to the production efforts of David Foster, who'd become famous in the ensuing decades for some of the most delightfully bombastic pop ever (Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Josh Groban). Their debut for Capitol Records, The Completion Backward Principle, cracked the Top 40, setting the stage for Outside Inside. Lead single "She's a Beauty" was the band's biggest hit ever, at No. 10 on the Billboard charts. The song had the band dovetailing nicely with Foster's production and the co-songwriting abilities of Toto's Steve Lukather (he penned the song alongside Foster and Tubes frontman Fee Waybill), who bought most of his bandmates along for the ride as well - David Paich and Steve Porcaro are credited on the record, and Bobby Kimball's unmistakeable voice can be heard singing on the chorus. (In another bit of Toto-related irony, the well-received video for the single starred Robert Arquette - now Alexis - who is the sibling of Rosanna, the namesake of one of Toto's biggest singles.)
Two other singles were spun off the record but were far less successful. However, final single "The Monkey Time" is notable for being slightly re-recorded for single release; vocalist Michelle Gray replaced Martha Davis of The Motels for the single (which would find its way on some CD pressings in place of the album version).
There was one more LP for Capitol afterward, the Rundgren-produced Love Bomb, and then no activity from The Tubes until 1996. In that time, Waybill became a valued collaborator to another soft-pop heavyweight, the one and only Richard Marx. But the band sure went out after a hell of a high note, and one that should earn the special treatment on CD someday. (Maybe it would start a reissue campaign for the band on both sides of the fence, Capitol and A&M.)
Step inside another world after the jump.
The Tubes, Outside Inside (Capitol ST-12260, 1983)
- She's a Beauty - 4:00
- No Not Again - 3:27
- Out of the Business - 3:29
- The Monkey Time - 3:53
- Glass House - 3:30
- Wild Women of Wongo - 3:56
- Tip of My Tongue - 3:57
- Fantastic Delusion - 3:54
- Drums - 2:20
- Theme Park - 3:12
- Outside Lookin' Inside - 0:56
- When You're Ready to Come - 3:39 (B-side to "She's a Beauty" - Captiol B-5217, 1983)
- Keyboard Kids - 4:29 (B-side to "Tip of My Tongue" - Capitol B-5258, 1983)
- The Monkey Time (Single Version) - 3:40 (promo single A-side - Capitol PB-5254, 1983 - replaced LP version on some CD pressings)
- Tip of My Tongue (Dance Mix) - 3:59 (12" promo A-side - Capitol SPRO-8560, 1983)
The Completion Backwards video (which was a soundstage recreation of their concert) would be an obvious second-disc for any reissue of the CB album. When I worked at a video store, we'd play that VHS tape in the background sometimes just to see who would get most offended. The scene in which two clothes irons are brought to Fee's buttocks usually brought someone to the register to complain.) Hilarious, fun video.
I have the Mobile Fidelity CD of their first album, sounds very nice. And I have the What Do You Want From Live? 2-CD import from the late 1980s. But I've avoided the rest of their catalog because it's a bit of a mystery to me, and frankly their music was secondary to their visuals. Some of their music was just outright bad.
The more video the labels could pair up with the albums, the better.
Rich Dudas says
Bill Champlin (Chicago, Sons Of Champlin) can also be heard doing background vocals on "She's A Beauty", as well as other tracks on the album as well. You can hear Bill and Bobby throughout the album on vocals - great stuff !!