Wow, this one brings back memories! Remote Control was, in my opinion, the best album the Tubes ever recorded. And it was one of the best album covers of all-time too! Todd Rundgren produced Remote Control, leaving such an indelible stamp that the album even sounded at times like a classic Rundgren or Utopia record, fusing pop smarts with the Tubes flair for the theatrical. This was a definite concept album — as indicated by the title — about the control that television has on the general public … and your mind. This affliction was diagnosed when the album was recorded in 1979 and of course continues today. Perhaps it’s time for a sequel, lamenting the pervasive control that digital gadgets now have on the masses. Downloadable Control, perhaps?
Lead singer Fee Waybill and his band of musical misfits were in fine form for this recording, and Rundgren deftly used his famous production skills to make it all sound that much better. Before this album, the Tubes were mainly known for being a very wild and theatrical band, particularly on stage. One of the songs off their 1975 debut album, “White Punks on Dope,” along with “Don’t Touch Me There” off their second album only helped to cement their reputation as a curious rock act, but not one to be taken seriously. Remote Control, however, helped to change that opinion. These songs were keepers, the tunes sinking deep into the synapses of your mind until you couldn’t help but sing along. Remote Control indeed!
While the album’s them was clearly television domination — “T.V. Is King” … “Turn Me On” … “Prime Time” … “Telicide” — when all was said and sung, this was just a very fun and enjoyable album packed with catchy songs. Pure pop for wowed people. The band followed Remote Control with a few more popular albums, The Completion Backwards Principle and Outside Inside, (which yielded the big hit “She’s a Beauty”) before finishing their major label career with the woefully overlooked Love Bomb (also produced by Rundgren) in 1985. The Tubes continued touring and recording for the rest of the decade, but due to a revolving door of departing band members and record label changes, they virtually disappeared from the music radar. The Tubes have persevered, however, and are still touring today!