[Review] The Tubes: Young And Rich (1976)

The arrangements are less ambitious this time around, but the band’s bizarre sense of humor and showmanship remain intact.

Kronomyth 2.0: Carte blanche.

The zany rock & roll adventures of The Tubes continue on Young And Rich. Featuring a few leftover ideas (“Brighter Day,” “Stand Up And Shout,” “Proud To Be An American”) and a new producer (Ken Scott), their second album puts the band and their instruments front and center, which results in a crisper (if not as conceptually stunning) sound. Had this been their debut album, I suspect I would have simply transferred the superlatives from their first over to here. But, invariably, I find myself comparing Young And Rich to their first record and wondering what the theatrically minded “Pimp,” “Poland Whole/Madam I’m Adam” and “Tubes World Tour” might have sounded like under Al Kooper’s care. Not that Ken Scott’s production isn’t excellent—it’s surprisingly clean and uncluttered, all things considered—but the band comes off sounding like mid-period Frank Zappa (e.g., Zoot Allures) or Utopia (Oops! Wrong Planet), where there first album sounded like a wonderful prog/punk version of Chicago.

It’s still a well-staged album with some memorable cuts, including “Don’t Touch Me There” (a song that could have stepped straight from Rocky Horror Picture Show) and the readymade road extravaganza, “Tubes World Tour.” Some people actually prefer this to their first record; presumably those people who enjoy their silliness with a side order of instrumental soloing, since this album does feature actual guitar and synthesizer solos. Really, the band’s first two records are required listening for fans of Frank Zappa and Utopia, even if Young And Rich does come dangerously close to being a novelty record in the middle (“Don’t Touch Me There,” “Slipped My Disco,” “Proud To Be An American”).

Original LP Version

A1. Tubes World Tour (Bill Spooner/Roger Steen/Fee Waybill) (4:41)
A2. Brighter Day (Roger Steen)
A3. Pimp (Bill Spooner) (4:22)
A4. Stand Up And Shout (Ray Trainer/Michael Condello) (3:24)
A5. Don’t Touch Me There (Ron Nagle/Jane Dornacker) (3:24)
B1. Slipped My Disco (Bill Spooner/Roger Steen) (4:29)
B2. Proud To Be An American (Bill Spooner) (3:02)
B3. Poland Whole/Madam I’m Adam (Roger Steen/Bill Spooner/The Tubes) (6:33)
B4. Young And Rich (Bill Spooner) (5:02)

The Players

Rick Gator Anderson (bass & vocal quips), Michael Cotton (synthesizers, visions), Preposterous Prairie Prince (power percussion), Bill Sputnik Spooner (guitars, vocals, below-console leadership), Roger Steen (guitars, blues harp, vocals, bone structure), Re Styles (funky-pretty vocals, good hands again), Fee Waldo Waybill (method frontman), Vince Welnick (keyboards, synthesizer, gestures) with George Bohanon (trombone), Chuck Domanico (double bass on B2), Steve Douglas (sax/tambourine), Alan Estes (percussion), Armand Kaproff (cello), Jay Migliori (sax), Jack Nitzsche (arranger on A5), David Paich (arranger, orchestration, accordion, Hammond organ), Don Randi (piano), The Ron Hicklin Singers (Ron Hicklin, Stan Farber, Jerry Whitman, Gene Morford) (backing vocals on B2), Bobby Shew (trumpet), David Speitz (cello), Julia Tillman (backing vocals on A2/A3/B1), Julius Wechter (percussion), Maxine Willard (backing vocals on A2/A3/B1), Deniece Williams (backing vocals on A2/A3/B1) plus 16-piece string section. Produced by Ken Scott; engineered by Ed E. Thacker.

The Pictures

Back cover and sleeve photographs by Norman Seeff. Front cover photograph by Harry Mittman. Album design by Michael Cotton and Prairie Prince. Technical assistance and typography by Junie Osaki. Credit-card credit by Jeff Ayeroff. Tubes personal liner-notes editor: Bud Scoppa.

The Picayune

Janet Dornacker went by the stage name of Leila T. Snake. She performed with The Tubes on stage before starting her own band, Leila and The Snakes.

The Plastic

Released on elpee and cassette in April 1976 in the US and Canada (A&M, SP/CS-4580), the UK and the Netherlands (A&M, AMLH-64580), Australia (A&M, L35892) and Japan (A&M, GP-296) with embossed cover and innersleeve; reached #46 on the US charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee and compact disc in 1988 in the US (A&M, SP/CD-3222).
  2. Re-packaged with The Tubes on 2-for-1 compact disc on November 17, 2003 in the UK (Acadia, ACA-8065).

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