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Spinal Tap This Is Spinal Tap Review

Soundtrack. Released 1984.  

BBC Review

A perfect parody album that rocks in its own right.

David Quantick 2013

The rock parody record had, until (This Is) Spinal Tap, a chequered and ropy history.

Whilst there were many hilarious mockeries of popular music, from the cheesy club nonsense of The Barron Knights to the brilliant surrealism of The Bonzo Dog (Doo-Dah) Band, very little of it had been consistent.

Even pastiche rock albums like Frank Zappa’s Cruising with Ruben & the Jets (doo-wop) or Wizzard’s great singles (Phil Spector) couldn’t help adding new elements and sliding off the joke.

Only Manchester’s Alberto y Los Trios Paranoias and ex-Bonzo Neil Innes’ Rutles achieved complete, holistic parody brilliance.

So when, in 1984, the improvisational comic Christopher Guest teamed up with Michael McKean and Harry Shearer to create a movie about a second-rate British heavy metal band, expectations were low.

But as word spread, and filmgoers came out unsure if they’d seen a real documentary or, if you will, a mockumentary, it became apparent that This Is Spinal Tap was scarily accurate.

Based on the actual antics of Saxon and Black Sabbath, This Is Spinal Tap looked, felt and sounded authentic – so much so that Ozzy Osbourne once claimed he couldn’t watch it.

Musically, it worked best as a film, naturally, with the comedy of the Stonehenge routine and the set-up for the gentle piano beauty of Lick My Love Pump (sadly not included here). But for the first time, the soundtrack worked as a rock record in its own right.

It’s still hilarious but you could, if you wished, listen to songs like Big Bottom, Sex Farm, and the brilliantly, brilliantly named Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight and think that you were listening to a reasonably good British hard rock band.

Certainly there must have been moments in the life of Whitesnake singer David Coverdale when he heard Spinal Tap and thought, “I don’t remember recording that.” (Listen to The) Flower People, meanwhile, beautifully mimics Status Quo’s 1960s pop hits.

This Is Spinal Tap, then, is a perfect parody album that rocks in its own right.

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