The Tubes

Showmanship from the masters

Phoenix's other gift to theatrical rock, the Tubes, challenged Alice Cooper's supremacy with their similarly decadent front man Fee Waybill as Quay Lewd. Where Coop would camp it up with a boa constrictor, Quay Lewd would settle for a feathered boa -- and more high heels than a random shelf at Payless. When the glam-rock fervor died down in the mid-'70s, Alice retreated into housewife balladry, while the Tubes, with their forward-looking 1975 cult classic "White Punks on Dope," and a new Waybill character, Johnny Bugger, were easily embraced by the U.K. punk movement. While they succeeded in getting their live shows banned in England, they still desperately needed hits back home. In the '80s, the Tubes straddled the line between real and satirical corporate rock, with Loverboy wanna-be hits like "Talk to You Later" and "She's a Beauty," which had just enough smirk to satisfy their diehard fans, but enough bland chord-mongering to please AOR programmers. On their last U.K. tour, the Tubes imported a rootin', tootin' Wild West show. Expect to see Waybill rival Cher in the costume-change department, going from Lewd, to a mariachi singer, to a chain-saw-pulling Mad Cow Auctioneer.

 
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