The Tubes

Genius of America

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After more than a decade, the Tubes reconnected for the contemporary-sounding, edgy Genius of America. If you're afraid that the band picks up where Love Bomb left off, relax. With material presumably stockpiled over the years (including much of it from new guitarist/keyboardist Gary Cambra), this is a rejuvenated Tubes. Like Yes after the addition of Trevor Rabin, this incarnation of the band produces masterful studio rock with equal amounts of atmosphere and giant guitar riffs ("Say What You Want," "I Never Saw It Comin'"). Unfortunately, the band's long absence, combined with the marketing challenges of a minor-label release, meant that Genius of America didn't show up on everyone's radar. It's too bad, since this disc is every bit as good as The Completion Backward Principle or Outside Inside, albeit in a different musical vein (guitar-driven rock vs. arena/dance-pop). The single "How Can You Live With Yourself," cowritten and produced by Richard Marx, is handily their best ballad since "Don't Want to Wait Anymore," while "Fishhouse" and "Who Names the Hurricanes" carry the Tubes' funky vibe into the contemporary rock scene. By breaking into numerous songwriting partnerships, the band keeps the flow fresh, alternating between slightly over the top songs ("Big Brother's Still Watching," co-written with Steve Lukather) and disarming gems like "After All You Said" or "It's Too Late." It would be interesting to speculate that these sessions started as a collection of solo projects, much like Yes' Union, since some of the songwriting credits read like a Fee Waybill record. Regardless of its origin, the end product is consistent in sound and vision, a rare case of a band returning from the shadows more luminous than when it left. Longtime fans can take solace in the fact that Mike Cotton (presumably the same guy) and Re Styles Macleod are credited in the liner notes for concept consultant and donut, respectively.

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