Spinal Tap

Black Sabbath after Ozzy left
*special introductory paragraph!
*Spinal Tap
*Break Like The Wind
*Back From The Dead

Spinal Tap is a parody of a heavy metal band created in the early 80s by comedy guys Michael McKean (Saturday Night Live, Laverne & Shirley, The Brady Bunch Movie, Best Of Show, a couple of episodes of The X-Files), Christopher Guest (Saturday Night Live, Best Of Show, Waiting For Guffman) and Harry Shearer (Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Godzilla). The band was created for one of the greatest comedies of all time, Rob Reiner's This Is Spinal Tap, the schtick being that it was a "documentary" of a really old, really dumb British heavy metal band that didn't realize that its salad days were long, long, long, long gone. If you haven't seen the movie and you have a rudimentary knowledge of the history of rock music through the 60s and 70s, you've really got to give it a go. Funny people can do things with no script that most people (Tom Cruise) can't do with two scripts put together.

* Spinal Tap - Polygram 1984. *
Rating = 10

The companion piece to the movie, this soundtrack features eleven tracks spanning the "career" of the band from its early incarnation as The Thamesman (fey British children's song "Cups And Cakes") through the name change and early Stonesy sound of "Gimme Some Money" through the psychedelia of "(Listen To The) Flower People" into lots of great heavy metal parodies. Light-hearted metal. NWOBM metal. Slow "evil" metal. And best of all, pretentious art metal - NAILED with hilarious references to classical music, minor-key vocal melodies and laugh-out-load Styx-esque keyboard breaks.

Rare thoughts: The Fall ripped off "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" for their equally excellent song "Athlete Cured." "Big Bottom" is a double-entendre joke that features lyrics about big butts against the instrumental backdrop of three bass guitars (a "big bottom," see). The CD may not display the hilarious band members' personalities the way that the movie and new DVD do, but at least you get brilliantly "huh?" lyrics like "You're too young and I'm too well hung," "In ancient times - Hundreds of years before the dawn of history" and "Why waste good music on a brain?"

The coolest thing is that, unlike The Rutles' music, which was all written and performed by Neil Innes (one of the Rutles, yes, but only one of them), Spinal Tap's music was all written and performed by these three funnymen better known as funnypeople. And they're GREAT SONGS! Not just accurate imitations of dumb metal, but catchy as hell riffs too. And Christopher Guest is a surprisingly talented lead guitarist! Who'da thought he'd end up as that bait shop bloodhound guy in Best Of Show?

You ever get the feeling you've been cheated? George Harrison said that at the last Beatles show.

Reader Comments

ayoungno1@hotmail.com (Alex R.)
Don't have the album but I do have the movie, so I should have an idea of what this album is like. I love "Stonehenge"!! In fact, that's the best part of the movie! The mini Stonehenge monument lowers to the grond and the 2 Drawfs dance around it! That's some funny shit! But after that performance, Ian the manager quit and David's bitch girlfriend takes over. I hate her!! Nigel also made the right decision of quitting because she was a royal pain in the ass! Well, it's a good thing that Sex Farm was a hit in Japan because then we wouldn't see our heroes back together again with Ian at the helm. Mark, where the hell is the review for Smell The Glove???

Holy shit, this album is amazing. "Gimme Some Money" may be the funniest song on here, and that's saying a lot. Each song on here is great, except one. But even that one, "Heavy Duty," which completely sucks for a while, has a great classical music parody at the end. "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You (Tonight)" has one of the coolest riffs EVER, "Sex Farm" and "Hell Hole" both have great backing vocals in the choruses, "Big Bottom" is about as subtle as a hardcore porn video (but with a much cooler bassline. Or would that be basslines?) and "Stonehenge" is, simply put, majestic. Oh, and there's a movie, too, that happens to be fucking hilarious, even though Billy Crystal and Fran Drescher do have parts. That also gets a ten.

Now, if only people would realize that "this one goes to eleven" line and all possible variants are only funny WHEN CHRISTOPHER GUEST SAYS THEM IN THE FREAKIN' MOVIE! Unoriginal, ignint motherfuckers.

hello , im daniel i would just like to say that when i first saw that clip of stone- henge it had me in stiches.i wonder if there would be any sequel if their was then that would proberly sell a hunch.but anyway gret stuff , every time me and my brother talk i cant help but to bring up the "spinal tap" qoutes funny shit love it.

George Harrison said that at the last Beatles show?? In San Fransisco right? Right before Ringo killed his girlfriend Nancy then ODed on heroin????

Anyways, this alblum kicks ass. I'd have to say Big Bottom is my favorite cuz I like a nice ass on a girl. Stonehenge is great too. The movie is just hilarious- I watched it 3 times in one day! I like that extra little seen at the Zoo. "Ive heard they can talk. Just little things. 'Yes please'. 'Can I have some more bread?'"

The part of the film where the band come out of Pods on stage and the bassist gets stuck coming out of his pod had me in fucking stiches.

The roadies trying to hammer it open while he bravely plays on stuck half way out of the door, then they get him out as the song finishes and the other band members are going back into the pods, he follows them, gets stuck again and throws up the two fingered devil salute Hahahahaha funny shit.

"Oh how they danced, the little people of Stonehenge".

The thing about Spinal Tap to me is that the joke really wears thin after a while. The first 5 minutes or so are quite funny, the next half hour mildly amusing, but after that it starts to grate and seem stale and a little smug. I'm not really sure why they're considered one of the highlights of comedy history. Still, some of the songs are quite catchy.

mnj4bz@sympatico.ca (Mike Forbes)
A buddy of mine actually had "the black album" by Spinal Tap. The movie is absolutely hilarious, taking all the things that could possibly go wrong with ANY band and rolling them into the final tour of a ficticious, aged, british rock band... surely a classic I'll be showing my kids... but the album, the music, the 3 chord ditties? I guess for comedians, the music is brilliant but I've got 2 words that sum up both albums and if you've seen the movie, you've seen the review... SHIT SANDWICH.

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Break Like The Wind - MCA 1992.
Rating = 8

Really low 8. Maybe a 7. Maybe not. Maybe a 14. Maybe a 1. Maybe so! Maybe a ketchup. This "reunion album" features slicker production and some more great, diverse metal joke songs like the uproariously overblown anthem "The Majesty Of Rock," goodtime high-speed chugger "Diva Fever," folk ballad "Rainy Day Sun" and eastern-twinged (and rudely entitled) "Clam Caravan." Even without the benefit of a movie to back it up, they've created another Tupperware-brand Tupperware dish of memorable melodies with lyrics that are so dumb, they're obviously penned by really smart guys, including almost missable undismissables as "We're in this together - and ever!" and "I can't remember any more of the top of my head but I remember laughing while listening to it." There are definitely some weak points, of which there weren't any on the first album - bland verses here and there, dopey vocals in a couple of places, and a complete throwaway in "Christmas With The Devil" - but much fewer than you would expect.

Here's a joke I'm making up as I go - you ready? Here it goes: Why did Nathan Lane decide to join Matthew Broderick in The Producers?

Because he just loved Broderick's Erection!

That's not a bad joke, considering I made up the punchline after I made up the question. See, Nathan Lane is gay, I'm pretty sure. And Matthew Broderick had a movie called Election. Do you get it? Okay, here's another punchline: Because he was hoping Matthew Broderick would play some "Whore Games" with him! Do you get that one? Matthew Broderick had a film a long time ago called War Games. Okay how about something to do with Nathan wanting to be Matthew Broderick's "Cable Guy," IF YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN BY CABLE. Or something about sucking Matthew's BiCOCKSi BLUE. Or enjoying Ferris Bueller's Gay Off. That one wasn't very good.

I hope you enjoyed my page of Matthew Broderick film reviews. Please click on the link below to return to my home page for more film reviews.

Reader Comments

foland_ratzl@hotmail.com (Roland Fratzl)
Hmmm...a real live band formed by a bunch of actors after portraying a fictional band in a hit movie.


Holy shit, does this album suck! Possibly a six. There's two good songs here. Only two. "Bitch School," which appears in the re-issue of the movie but strangely, only on the VHS version and not the DVD and has the best double-entendre lyrics since, uh, "Big Bottom" and as Mark said, the hilariously overblown "Majesty Of Rock." There's really no reason to buy this one, but it is a ton better than, say, Linkin Park, who fucking suck.

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Back From The Dead - The Spuzzle Group 2009
Rating = 6

Generally when a band decides to re-record an entire album, there's some business-oriented reason for it. Suicidal Tendencies did it because Frontier Records had given them such a lousy deal on their first record. Buckner & Garcia did it because Columbia wouldn't release Pac-Man Fever on CD. The Beatles should've done it because it would've been hilarious to hear Please Please Me as performed by the angry Maharishi big-bearded heroin 1970 version of the band. So I have to assume that Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer have some bone to pick with Polygram over the original movie soundtrack. There's just no other logical explanation why they would think it wise to re-record that entire classic release, even with the addition of five new songs and three "Jazz Odyssey"s.

The re-recordings are fine but pointless. The original versions did not need to be improved upon, neither with modern recording technology nor tighter musicianship. In fact, the only improvement I can point to is that I never realized they were singing "Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do" in the middle of "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight"; that vocal passage is much clearer now. Unfortunately, the rest of the vocals no longer sound like a cocky '70s hard rock God; they sound like 61-year-old humorist Michael McKean. McKean also blows the goat in "Cups And Cakes," singing it as a grown man instead of the wee British bloke who made the original version so adorably stupid.

They do radically rework two songs, but even here the results are mixed. "Listen To The Flower People" is honestly entertaining played and sung as Rasta reggae ("LEEEE-sen!"), but "Sex Farm" is destroyed in its conversion to corny Jim Belushi-style funk-blues with horns and barnyard noises. As for the three installments of "Jazz Odyssey," if you've seen the movie, you can probably guess how quickly they grow tiresome. If not, guess a very low number of seconds.

This leaves the five new compositions, only two of which live up to the Spinal Tap name and legend. "Rock 'N Roll Nightmare" (which actually might be a previously unrecorded old song) is a big fun boogie rocker with lyrics like "When the rock 'n roll nightmare comes/The devil's gonna make me eat my drums," and "Warmer Than Hell" features a dark hooky note-based riff to accompany its Tap-meets-global warming lyrics ("Beelzebubís in Brighton/The last time there, he froze/Now he says the sand is far too hot/For his poor cloven toes").

Unfortunately, the other three would make me write "FAIL" underneath them if they were photos, because it's both hilarious and groundbreaking to write "FAIL" under photos. The title track sounds like a joke song, which is the last way to go about creating an effective joke song; "Celtic Blues" is clearly a Folksmen performance and has no place on a Spinal Tap album; and the wittily titled "Short And Sweet" (length: 6:32) would be a cute litle blues-rock shuffle if not for its interminable never-ending guitar solo that makes you want to rip your eyeballs out and throw them down the stairway!

Oh no. I appear to have ripped Michael Jackson's eyeballs out and thrown them down the stairway. I'm sorry, Michael! Please let me help you!

Oh no. In my haste to aid the "King Of Pop(ping little boys' butt cherries)," I've inadvertantly tied Farrah Fawcett to a railroad track in front of a steaming fast train. It was a clerical error, Farrah! Wait here while I seek assistance!

Oh no. In my hurriedness to free my favorite 'Charlie's Angle,' I've unpurposely strangled Ed McMahon to fatality. I thought you were a stuffed animal, Ed! Please come back!

Indeed, just hours after these tragic deaths, the Internet was full and buzzing with mean-spirited death jokes. I'm sure you've already heard this one, but just in case:

Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon arrived at the Pearly Gates at the same time. St. Peter said, "Unfortunately there's only room for two of you in here, so each of you must tell me why you think you deserve to enter Heaven." Ed McMahon spoke first, "I've lived a good life and brought joy to many people through my appearances on The Tonight Show." Farrah Fawcett was next: "I was always a good person, kind to animals, and people loved masturbating to my poster." Finally, Michael Jackson spoke, "I replaced my entire head with a plastic stick." St. Peter thought for a moment and decided, "Okay, all three of you can come in." "What made you change your mind?" asked Farrah Fawcett. St. Peter chuckled and replied, "Well, I'd prefer to only admit you and Ed, but it looks like Michael's hand is already stuck inside the baby Jesus!"

Now just wait and see how many talk show hosts use that joke in their monologue tonight. Come on Conan O'Brien, write your own jokes. Come on Jimmy Fallon, dive off a roof.

Reader Comments

While I mostly agree with the text of your review, I completely disagree on the score. This album deserves an TWO for two decent songs. First, all of the remakes are pointless and there is no reason to listen to them.

I do disagree on Flower People and it's total suckage Reggae-Pop. In case you didn't know, the title track has been around since 2000 and was released over the Internet by the band. I believe this is the same recording. It's not completely awful. As you said, "Rock & Roll Nightmare" is tolerable. If you want the true FAIL on this album, it's "(Funky) Sex Farm". It's so bad that maybe this album only deserves a ONE.

You noticed that all three of the celebrities you mentioned died after this horrible album was released. Coincidence? I don't think so.

A couple months back I was at a local Green Festival. Not 5 feet away from me was Ed Begley Jr killing time before a speech he was giving. He walks up to this woman (I'm not making this up) and says "Nice Compost". I thought about walking up to him and saying "you are my favorite Spinal Tap drummer". However, I didn't want to come off as a complete psycho and chickened out.

Finally, you can take any of the album reviews done in the movie and apply them to this one. "Shit Sandwich" indeed.

A pretty pointless release, but the funky version of Sex Farm would've been great if they'd used an actual horn section instead of the lame synths.

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