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What Do You Want From Live

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Album Review

Although their studio albums were often hit-and-miss affairs, the Tubes could always be counted on for a good live show during their mid-'70s heyday. In fact, they became a legend in the rock & roll world for their glitzy shows, which included half-nude women performing elaborate dance routines and a variety of characters invented by frontman Fee Waybill, like punk rocker "Johnny Bugger" and blissed-out glam rock icon "Quay Lewd." What Do You Want from Live can't reproduce all this visual stimuli but it does show what many critics forgot to notice about the Tubes, i.e., the fact that they were a really sharp and exciting live band. Stripped of their outre visual surroundings, songs like "Mondo Bondage" and "I Was a Punk Before You Were a Punk" still pack a visceral punch thanks to their effective combination of gonzo humor and catchy melodies. Elsewhere, the Tubes get to show off their surprisingly impressive chops on "Overture," a fast-paced medley that transforms the instrumental highlights of six different songs into one head-spinning pomp-rock blitz, and "Crime Medley," a witty tapestry of crime jazz woven from television theme songs like "Theme from Peter Gunn" and "Theme from Dragnet." The downside of What Do You Want from Live is that some of the numbers are less potent without the choreographed routines surrounding them: "Smoke (La Vie en Fumer)" and "What Do You Want from Life" both feature Fee Waybill talking about the visual chaos surrounding him and this leaves the listener feeling like they're only witnessing part of the joke (if only someone would put out a video of one of the Tubes' shows from this era). Despite this caveat, What Do You Want from Live remains a witty and entertaining live album. It may not win any new converts to the Tubes' camp, but fans of the group will definitely want to check out this entertaining souvenir from the group's wildest era. ~ Donald A. Guarisco, Rovi

Biography

Formed: 1972 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The Tubes were arch satirists of popular culture whose outrageous performance art concepts -- which swung wildly from softcore pornography to suit-and-tie conservatism -- frequently eclipsed their elusive musical identity. The beginnings of the group originated in Phoenix, Arizona in the late '60s, where guitarist Bill Spooner, keyboardist Vince Welnick, and bassist Rick Anderson formed as the Beans (alternately billing themselves as the Radar Men from Uranus). After moving to San Francisco in 1972,...
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What Do You Want From Live, The Tubes
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