After stunning the rock world with their memorable debut in 1975, the Tubes ran into trouble. Although Young And Rich and Now had fine moments, they were uneven and left many rock pundits wondering if the Tubes had anything to offer besides shock value. They got their answer with the release of Remote Control, a cohesive and surprisingly thoughtful concept album. On this 1979 outing, the Tubes enlisted the services of wunderkind producer Todd Rundgren to create a concept album that skewers the television generation. The choice was a wise one - Rundgren helped the group harness their satirical bite and love of pomp-rock excess to create a sharp and engaging collection of songs. As they chronicle the life of an average joe whose life and dreams are swallowed by his television addiction, the Tubes lead the listener through a dazzling array of musical styles that include new-wave, lounge pop, reggae, and even full-throttle punk. Highlights include "Prime Time," a song that utilizes an effective combination of lounge-lizard atmosphere and new wave synthesizer textures to convey its portrait of television's seductiveness, and "Love's A Mystery (I Don't Understand)," a surprisingly straightforward ballad about romantic loss that features a truly heart-rending vocal from Fee Waybill. The group also gets a chance to show off their formidable instrumental chops on "Get-Overture," a tight instrumental that goes from atmospheric prog-rock to driving hard rock as it cleverly weaves together snippets of all the other songs' melodies. In short, Remote Control proves the Tubes were more than a bunch of musical jokesters. The end result is the band's finest hour and a treat for concept-album fanatics.
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AllMusic Review by Donald A. Guarisco