Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Spinal Tap ~ Back From The Dead



(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: comedy, hard rock
Label: Spuzzle Group
Year: 2009
Home: n/a

Members: Derek Smalls ~ bass/vocals
David St. Hubbins ~ lead vocals/guitar
Nigel Tufnel ~ lead guitar/vocals

Additional: Gregg Bissonette ~ drums
C.J. Vanston ~ keyboards

Guests: Phil Collen, Steve Vai, John Mayer ~ guitars
Keith Emerson ~ keyboard


I love the Spinal Tap movie. Who doesn't? But, I've always enjoyed the music better on the albums away from the visual jokes. The music, in many ways, is more ingenious & the humor far more subtle. For all the jokes of guitar solos with feet this is an incredibly talented trio. It's difficult enough to write catchy songs, but they wrote humorous & catchy songs while imitating older styles of music with near perfection. Both their "non-fictitious" albums, the soundtrack from the movie & Break Like The Wind are thoroughly enjoyable, though for different reasons. This new release is an interesting addition that cashes in on their 25th anniversary & is probably not what fans expected. You'll find here a songs recorded in the last decade but not released on an album yet ("Back From The Dead", "Rock'N'Roll Nightmare", "Warmer Than Hell"), there's one completely new "Short & Sweet", the first studio recording of the dreaded "Jazz Odyssey" in all three parts, with the other 12 songs being remakes of songs heard on the soundtrack album. I bought this album, & probably so did many other fans, hoping for completely new songs. Where will the humor of Tap attack next? Maybe next release. The four newer songs are as classy as any classic Tap material, though nothing that blows you away. As for the rest of the album ... a greatest hits album is one thing, but this is a re-recorded greatest hits album that features new versions that are generally weaker than the originals. The point of the album is interesting but more often than not seemingly senseless & across the board pale & boring. "(Funky) Sex Farm" is a good example of this with a new & unnecessary horn line, or the new faux raggae style of "Listen To The Flower People", albeit it could have come straight off of a Bob Marley album. Many of the remakes also features changes so minor the remake doesn't seem to have any point except to hear the band play the hits one more time, while others verge into a wierd prog-rock territory. & then, there's "Jazz Odyssey", which was meant as a joke the first time around about a failed band but here it's given a serious treatment & something akin to having a traditional polka suddenly appearing in the middle of a heavy metal gutteral singing album. Can anyone say speed bump? Included as bonus tracks would have been better. Hearing these three speed bumps you wonder where did that come from & where or when is it going? The delayed jazz harmonica solo in the third part doesn't help. Then there's the underlooked classic "Gimme Some Money" that no longer sounds like the classic recreation it was supposed to sound like but a wierd tune. If the joke is in the arrangement & you kill the joke what's the point? I will say though that Tap are great at recreating musical styles, which they might be better at than comedy. If these were new songs the array of funk, jazz & reggae would be welcomed. There's even a celtic acapella chant called "Celtic Blues", which isn't anything great, though it ends with the wonderful joke of if they should do it with a capo (a device used on a guitar to change keys but not fingerings). It's moment of classic Tap. I believe Tap are far more talented than we give them credit for, but this is not an essential release nor a good introductory release it you don't know them. Stick to the movie & the first CD & if you enjoy that get the over-the-top Break Like The Wind. Avoid the Return Of Spinal Tap DVD but go for the acoustic Unwigged & Unplugged DVD which is a mixed bag but the good points win out. Oh, I should also mention that you should not download this album. The packaging folds out to foot high cardboard figures of the band which are totally cool. & there's a companion DVD which talks about all the songs & is hysterical.


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