Music On The Road / The Tubes and Lulu

I have an online CD friend who occasionally sends me some music CDs to check out. One of her best picks was the first album from The Tubes. I had to do a long road trip a while back and that was definitely one of the many music CDs I brought along. Of course musical taste is such a personal thing so feel free to skip this one if it’s not working for you.

I’d never actually heard the first album from The Tubes all the way through though I knew some of it. The opening track, “Up From The Deep,” has all these weird time signature changes that must be incredibly hard to play. They’re great musicians and I’ve always been impressed by how high Fee Waybill can sing with that clear tenor voice of his.

The one track I somehow didn’t notice at first was “Mondo Bondage.” I wasn’t really paying attention to the lyrics and had forgotten the title until the third or fourth listening. Pretty silly stuff.

I could run away to spain
But I’d just get tied again
I could run off to jamaica
If this bondage I could breaka

I remember first hearing about The Tubes from my older brother, who had a wider taste in music than I did at the time. We especially listened a lot to their “Remote Control” album when it came out in ’79, produced by Todd Rundgren. I still really like it, with some very catchy disco-influenced sounds, but it’s also incredibly melancholy, part of the reason it appealed to me as a confused and miserable teenager. Good stuff.

And to completely shift gears, my friend also sent me another compilation of favorite songs on CD, including Lulu’s “To Sir, With Love,” which I have to agree is another favorite since hearing it again a few years ago, even if it’s not the least bit cool. Fun side note, apparently Lulu dated David Bowie briefly when they were both young and, well, she likewise never felt cool enough being with him. He reportedly suggested that she could lose some weight to have more of a “heroin chic” look, but said it in a charming way that wasn’t judgmental, just a helpful observation. Apparently they stayed friends for years. In any case her voice is amazing, as well as her stage presence and just how she moves and emotes. Lovely and still going strong at age 72.

5 thoughts on “Music On The Road / The Tubes and Lulu”

  1. Great stuff! I’m old enough to have experienced all of this music in real time, so it really brings back good memories for me. The Tubes were great, and Lulu was all over the radio back then.


    1. Thanks, Michelle! Glad you enjoyed the post. I always wished I’d seen The Tubes back in the day, apparently they’re still going at it!

  2. Speaking of To Sir With Love, lead actress Judy Geeson made a great thriller It Happened at the Midnight Inn, 1973. During the last ten minutes she tries to run for her life with her hands secured behind her back and gagged by two crazy spinsters who kill unwed mothers or young girls with ‘low’ morals. Great scene and Judy was a babe.

    You are still the best model on the web Sandra, great legs, and an underrated bum.

  3. Hello Sandra,

    I haven’t checked your blog in a while but when I did look in, and found this gem on the TUBES and LULU, I just have to chime in. I’m “in” their generation. The same ages. And I saw the very first TUBES show on the east coast. . .in Atlanta. . when they started touring. It was an incredible event in one ways in one. Thought you might like a shared experience.

    In ’76 I was in grad school at Ga State Univ working in Journalism. Working PT as a bartender. The whole scene in Atlanta was electric. Music was everywhere. Small clubs supported more established places like Club 688 and the Agora ballroom. I virtually lived at both places. The tix prices were reasonable. Liquor was cheap. One night a friend of mine said, “you won’t believe who I saw last night at the Agora. A band out of SF called The TUBES. They are awesome.”

    Since they were playing the following night, no way I was going to miss them. The TUBES were considered the first band to incorporate music, a light show and choreographed dancers into the act. Lead singer Fee Waybill was as talented as a performer as he was a singer. For their signature song, “White Punks on Dope”, he came out in boots almost 2′ high. How the hell he stayed upright in them was incredible. But the band. . .damn. FANTASTIC ! Guitarists Roger Steen and Bill Spooner traded licks all night long. They had a keyboardist AND a synthesizer player, Michael Cotton. Synthesizers were just coming into vogue. Unique sounds. But it was the drummer Prairie Prince (yes, Prairie was/is his first name) that stood out. THE fastest hands I’ve ever seen on the riser. The man was a Gatling gun with sticks. His powerful licks held that show intact.

    And then there were the dancers. Well developed females in skimpy outfits who worked with Fee throughout various songs. In the song you mentioned (and one of my favs) “Mondo Bondage”, Waybill acts the part of the submissive to female Dommes. Very convincingly too. I had never seen a show so spectacular at that time. Alice Cooper was working the Detroit scene and later became known for their theatrics but I think the TUBES beat them to the punch. The show left me mesmerized.

    I was standing at the bar after the show. . .having a drink by myself. . when a young man came out from behind the stage. I thought he might be connected to the show so I offered to buy him a drink. He accepted. We had a wonderful conversation. He was the choreographer and this was his first production involving the band and the dancers. The conversation was so good that I invited to take him to a favorite after hours club for a bite. Again, he accepted. We closed the place around 3 am. Then, I drove him to his hotel in Sandy Springs. We walked into the lobby to see Roger Steen sitting on a couch. . . snorting coke. We exchanged addresses. This guy went on to become one of America’s best known choreographers. . .

    . . . KENNY ORTEGA.

    Kenny went on to direct movies as well as choreograph many others. He’s also known for being the director of the last tour Michael Jackson was ever to make. . .the one MJ died before the show could hit the road. That one didn’t work out.

    Three years later, I happened to be in SF on a visit. On a whim, I looked up Kenny’s address on Grant St. Sure enough, he still lived there. His name was on the mail box. He wasn’t home. Our paths never crossed again. Yet, on one incredible night, I not only got to see a concert and performance for the ages but met a great guy who went on to fame and fortune.

    I still love to play the TUBES. “Mondo Bondage” rocks. Obviously, for the bondage angle, it’s a fav. But “White Punks on Dope” is their signature song. “Talk to you Later” and “She’s a Beauty” are two other really good songs. Fee Waybill kept performing, mainly in dinner theaters and now sells commercial real estate in Arizona. Prairie Prince still works. I lost contact of the rest.

    Btw, I saw “To Sir With Love” when it came out in theaters. I can still see her on set singing the title song to Sidney Poitier. It was game breaking flic at the time. David Bowie was one of my musical idols. Saw him 4x. Miss him greatly. It was one helluva time to be around. Music will never be the same.

    Hope you liked the story. I live for moments like these.

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