The eighties. What else can I say to remind you of tight leather pants, big blond hair and ripped tiger tees. A time when macho guys singin ballads about lovin' (though they obviously meant sex) was acceptable? When one hit wonders had terrible songs, men wore makeup and movies embraced the music culture. Few movies were as unforgettable - or funny - as the notorious Spinal Tap, a mock/rockumentary directed by one of today's most looked up to directors, Rob Reiner.
If you haven't seen the movie, go see it. It's a great movie, but some people have trouble with the fact that Spinal Tap is a fake
band, aimed towards the glam metal music scene exploding out of Europe at the time. Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, David Katt and R.J. Parnell play washed up metal gods trying to re-ignite their career with a new album (Smell the Glove; not available in stores) and a successful U.S. tour. But enough about the movie, it's the music we're talking about today.
One thing that might shock you is that the music itself is actually not too bad, some alot better than what was floating around in the eighties. Mostly played out on power chords, fuzzy distortion, keyboards, lame drumming and less than desirable vocals, with some outragous lyrics, a signature that the movie trademark. On such tracks as Hell Hole
Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight
, you realize what Spinal Tap could do musically, with some rather cheesy solos and, uh, intersting lyrics ("The Windows Dirty, The Mattress Stinks, This Ain't No Place To Be Man"), you can really see that Spinal Tap does a really good job of smashing the metal scene to bits. The highlight in the heavier songs would have to be the whole thing that they're just not trying at all, but still making us shake our head and regret the eighties. Some songs might appeal to some; Heavy Duty
is the perfect Metallica mockery, complete with dumb-sounding backing vocals and a rather evil-sounding aura to it, but c'mon, it just can't be evil. The guitar riff fits the song, while the bass pattern embrasses. Slow, powerful drumming just gives it that extra metal touch. And who can resist Rock and Roll Creation
? Both songs are rather good, but for anyone who's seen the movie, the image of the live concerts are just too awesome. The best part is the mandolin solo in Stonehenge
. You can just see the short people dancing around the stonehenge....
As the movie tells us, Spinal Tap have been around since the Beatles, and even tried to join that style. As songs like America
and Cups and Cakes
, (listen to the) Flower People
and Gimme Some Money
, they're the more funny of the songs, considering that they do it so well. On America
, possibly the best song on the cd, they show us the "sensitive side" of Spinal Tap, while almost hinting at the things to come with a large, extensive solo in the middle, which leads into a psychadelic song complete with grunts and shouting, and a repetetive up-down riff. Nothing, though, is as out there as the completely psycadelic (listen to the) Flower People
, complete with the image of the lava-lamp influenced stage, background dancers (flower childeren), and the overall look of the band; a few hippies with nothing to offer but the ludicrous lyrics "Listen, (shhhh....), it's getting louder every day" and "Flower people, don't you cry, Flower people, walk on by". Just a completely ridiculous song, with the fortune of a sitar solo. Cups and Cakes
is a short one, with strings, and some of the worst (best) lyrics on the album. "Cups and cakes, cups and cakes, I'm so full my tummy aches". Gimme Some Money
insults the Beatles, with the whole song just mimicking early Beatles work like A Hard Days Night, and the like, but adding just plain funny lyrics, like "You're face is okay, (gimme some moneyyyy) but your purse is to tight".
Then the metal kicks again, but with a, uh, hornier feel to it. Especially on Big Bottom
and Sex Farm
, where the band just goes to the ultimate guy fantasy, completely rediculous lyrics and bassy beats to compliment gnarly, animal like growl that is supposed to "turn the girls on", but obviously don't. Some listeners might be offended, others just plain amused by the stupidity. Some new songs come in, and add to the affect. Christmas with the Devil
is just ludicrous, if unneccesary. A pretty much pure Spinal Tap song, it's about...uh, Christmas with the Devil, essentially. The scratch mix is just pushing it too far, though.
The album itself is great. Every song is humorous in it's own right, but some might find the concept tiring, boring and maybe even unfunny, but then there are the majority of people who just can't get enough of the movie, which supports the concept of this album a great deal. If you like the movie, get the album.
*Note; I realize the disaster of my Rolling Sones review, and rest assured that will never be attempted again.
Thanks for reading,