3 Out Of 5 Stars
By the time of "Love Bomb," tensions in The Tubes was at a boiling point. Fee Waybill was on the brink of launching his solo career, while the rest of the band wanted to get "Love Bomb" out there. For whatever reason, Capitol Records decided to put their muscle behind Fee's "Read My Lips" while "Love Bomb" slid under the radar. Even worse, Fee's album was a commercial dud. It turned into a lose-lose situation, effectively breaking up the band and Waybill with a solo stint that excited exactly no-one. Even worse, "Love Bomb" was easily as good as "Outside/Inside," the previous Tubes album.
The band had re-enlisted Todd Rundgren to produce again, as he also helmed one of the Tubes' most artistically satisfying albums, "Remote Control." As is typical with any Rundgren production, his hand weighs heavy on the proceedings here. But the Tubes had some great material up their collective sleeve, including the terrific first single "Piece By Piece." Todd even helped make an ahead of its time computerized video. But again, with no label support, it vanished with barely a trace. You can still find the vid on YouTube, and it's worth a look-see.
The real genius was to be found on what was originally the album's side two. A twenty minute collage of mini-tunes strung together as a medley, it should have been a critically acclaimed masterwork. It shows just how musically adept the Tubes in their prime truly were, even with the sideshow style of their burlesque concert act. Mixing found sound, narratives, and "Theme From A Summer Place" mashed up with "Wooly Bully" (keeping in mind that mash-ups weren't this commonplace as now) into another ahead of its time number (there weren't any other rock bands that I can recall at the time using samples), it holds "Love Bomb" up all by itself.
Still, Capitol bet on Waybill's solo career over this, and when you compare the two, it's frustrating. One one hand, you had the Tubes and Todd Rundgren working an arty album, and Fee recording with David Foster, most of Toto, and an up and coming songwriter named Richard Marx. Don't get me wrong, "Read My Lips" is as good as any 80's pop album from the period, but "Love Bomb" should have been salvaged from the scrap pile. Given a decent remaster from the folks at BGO Records but not adding any additional liner notes, this is a must for Tubes fans and probably Todd fans, too.