Prime Time – The Tubes (1979)

A & M Records AMS 7423

A small amount of my collection during the late 70’s contains some coloured vinyl singles. One such single is Prime Time by The Tubes. This is taken from their fourth album “Remote Control” described as a concept album exploring the influence of television. This track peaked at #34 on UK chart in its sixth week of a 10 week run. In their native USA this single did not chart.

Band Members of The Tubes at the time of recording;

  • Fee Waybill – vocals
  • Bill Spooner – guitar, vocals
  • Michael Cotten – synthesizer
  • Prairie Prince – drums
  • Roger Steen – guitar, vocals
  • Re Styles – vocals
  • Vince Welnick – keyboards
  • Rick Anderson – bass
Picture sleeve for “Prime Time” A parody of the 70’s TV show “Celebrity Squares” which was hosted by the king of game show hosts Bob Monkhouse in the UK

Produced and Engineered by Todd Rundgren a Pennsylvania, USA, multi instrumental musician, writer and vocalist. He worked on albums for such artists as Daryl Hall and John Oates, Meatloaf, Badfinger and the New York Dolls.

Originally they were formed from two bands in Pheonix and Scotsdale Arizona, USA who then moved to San Francisco, California in 1969.

Their break through was in 1975 with a self titled album having signed to Herb Alpert’s record label A & M records. 1979 when this single was released they were coming to the end of their time at A&M and went onto to record for Capitol Records.      

Live performances have been the main drive of the band and are known for very creative full production numbers which include other performers and artists. Often they allude to Mainstream and B-Movies, television and pop culture and therefore very costly gigs to put on. Much of the music covers an array of genres.

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Wonderful Life – Black (1987)

Pentax Digital Camera
           A&M Records AM 402

Black was a pseudonym for Colin Vearncombe of Liverpool. His early career at the beginning of the 80’s had him release tracks on independent labels, then he played on tour with the group The Thompson Twins. He signed to major label WEA in 1984 but after a couple of releases was dropped.

Originally recorded in 1986 and released on Ugly Man Records “Wonderful Life” just made the top 75 in the UK where it came to the attention to major label A&M, and in 1987 it was re-recorded and became a big European hit reaching #8 In the UK, #1 in Austria, #2 in Germany, Switzerland and France. It even made the top 10 in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Some tracks set a mood, or have to be played in a certain atmosphere. This is one such song. Although the genre is described as down tempo synth pop, you can get lost in the melodic nature of the backing and I love the snippet of saxophone. Although said to have been written at Vearncombe’s lowest ebb, the melancholy lyrics for me speak of someone knowing that actually not all is lost and there is a hint of optimism.

“Here I go out to sea again, the sunshine fills my hair
and dreams hang in the air,
Gulls in the sky and in my blue eye
You know it feels unfair, there’s magic everywhere
Look at me standing, here on my own again
Up straight in the sunshine

No need to run and hide, It’s a wonderful, wonderful life
No need to laugh and cry, It’s a wonderful, wonderful life

The sun’s in your eyes, the heat is in your hair
They seem to hate you, because you’re there
And I need a friend, oh I need a friend, to make me happy
Not standing here on my own,
Look at me standing here on my own again
up straight in the sunshine

No need to run and hide, It’s a wonderful, wonderful life
No need to laugh and cry, It’s a wonderful, wonderful life

I need a friend, oh I need a friend, to make me happy, not so alone
Look at me here, here on my own again
Up straight in the sunshine

No need to run and hide, It’s a wonderful, wonderful life
No need to laugh and cry, It’s a wonderful, wonderful life”