[Review] The Tubes: What Do You Want From Live (1978)

Everything you could want from a Tubes live album, if you wanted one in the first place.

Kronomyth 4.0: Bugger nights.

Among the sun-kissed memories of my past are the two odd-dozen 8-tracks I had purchased as a youth, shortly after acquiring an all-in-one Lenoxx stereo system for my birthday. It was a candybox collection for a child: David Bowie, The Moody Blues, ELO, Iggy Pop, Jethro Tull, Eric Clapton, Genesis and, as fate would have it, The Tubes. What Do You Want From Live was my introduction to The Tubes, and it wasn’t long after listening to it that I purchased their first album. Who could resist them after hearing “Boy Crazy,” “Mondo Bondage” and “White Punks On Dope?” In fact, I’m pretty sure I played the fourth track of that cassette (a meaningless reference to anyone under forty) until it broke.

At the time of its release, the concert double-album was a rite of passage for rock bands, beginning with the success of records like Kiss Alive and Frampton Comes Alive. The Tubes might have seemed an unusual choice for the honor, since they weren’t a household name and their last album, Now, had been a commercial and critical disappointment. Their live show, however, had always been a source of strength for the band: an outrageous mixture of spectacle, sarcasm and soft porn. Of course, you would never know any of this from the album cover, which inexplicably appeared as though the real cover had been scrapped at the last minute and replaced with a censored version. (As a band of artists, they were sometimes too smart for their own good.) Once purchased and opened, all was revealed, but you have to wonder how many more copies of this record would have sold if Fee Waybill, Re and the girls had appeared on the cover.

Recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in London, What Do You Want From Live is both an excellent introduction to The Tubes and a nice supplement to their first three records that includes about half a dozen songs, covers and medleys not available elsewhere. Highlights include songs from the first album, an extended version of “Smoke” that now makes perfect sense and Roger Steen’s “Show Me A Reason.” An honorable mention goes to the Johnny Bugger performance at the end featuring a rip-roaring version of “I Saw Her Standing There” and the original “I Was A Punk Before You Were A Punk.” As a relic from a bygone era, What Do You Want From Live deserves a good remastering with some bonus tracks. Someone, anyone?

Original 2LP Version

A1. Overture (The Tubes/Ray Trainer) (5:54)
A2. Got Yourself A Deal (Bill Spooner/Fee Waybill) (4:30)
A3. Show Me A Reason (Roger Steen) (3:28)
A4. What Do You Want From Life? (Bill Spooner/Michael Evans) (5:12)
B1. God-Bird-Change (Mingo Lewis) (4:48)
B2. Special Ballet (Michael Cotten) (1:01)
B3. Don’t Touch Me There (Ron Nagle/Jane Doornacker) (3:48)
B4. Mondo Bondage (The Tubes) (3:25)
B5. Smoke (La Vie En Fumer) (Michael Cotten/Vince Welnick/Bill Spooner) (8:20)
C1. Crime Medley: Sound Effect – Siren (0:08) / Theme From “Dragnet” (Walter Schuman) (0:07) / Theme From “Peter Gunn” (Henry Mancini) (0:34) / Theme From “Perry Mason” (Fred Steiner) (1:13) / Theme From “The Untouchables” (Riddle Loose) (1:03)
C2. I Was A Punk Before You Were A Punk (Bill Spooner/Michael Evans/Fee Waybill) (4:02)
C3. I Saw Her Standing There (John Lennon/Paul McCartney) (2:57)
C4. Drum Solo (Prairie Prince/Mingo Lewis) (4:20)
D1. Boy Crazy (Bill Spooner) (2:40)
D2. You’re No Fun (Vince Welnick/Michael Cotten/The Tubes) (3:15)
D3. Stand Up And Shout (Ray Trainer/Michael Condello) (3:30)
D4. White Punks On Dope (Bill Spooner/Roger Steen/Michael Evans) (8:33)

The Players

Rick Anderson (bass, vocals), Michael Cotten (synthesizers), Mingo Lewis (drums, percussion, vocals), Prairie Prince (drums), Sputnik Spooner (guitar, vocals), Roger Steen (guitar, vocals), Fee Waybill (lead vocals), Vince Welnick (keyboards, vocals) with Re Styles (vocals on B3). Produced by Pete Henderson and Rikki Farr; engineered by Pete Henderson; mixed by Pete Henderson and Rikki Farr.

The Pictures

Album art by Michael Cotten, Chuck Beeson, Jeff Ayeroff.

The Plastic

Released on 2LP, cassette and 8-track in March 1978* in the US and Canada (A&M, SP/CS/8T-6003), the UK (A&M, AMLM-68460), Germany (A&M, 396 003-1) and Japan (A&M, AMP-8009/10) with gatefold cover and picture innersleeves. Reached #82 on the US charts and #38 on the UK charts. (*First appeared in 3/4/78 issue of Billboard.)

  1. Re-issued on 2LP in Japan (A&M, GXG-1015/6) with gatefold cover.
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 1994 in the UK (A&M, 396 003-2).

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