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This is Spinal Tap

This is Spinal TapBy Nancy Buchan

The most true-to-life and hilarious movie ever made about musicians is called This is Spinal Tap. If you have never seen it, get on your computer and order it, or run right out and buy a copy – it should be required viewing for all family and girlfriends or boyfriends of rock musicians.  Largely improvised, it was presented as a ‘rockumentary’, but was actually a parody of rock documentaries, directed by Rob Reiner in 1984. It chronicled the travels and successes and excesses of an English heavy metal band called Spinal Tap, and satirizes their wild personal behavior and musical pretentions. It is also the basis for many musician ‘inside’ jokes and quotes – have you ever heard guitar players talking about turning their amp up to 11, or a band singing “Big Bottoms – My Baby’s Got ‘Em”? Metallica made a black album in homage to Tap’s “Smell the Glove” black cover, Steve Tyler thought it was too true to be funny, and U2 guitarist The Edge said he didn’t laugh at it, he wept, because it summed up what a brainless swamp big-label rock music had become. Amazingly, it was deemed “culturally, historically and aesthetically significant” by the US Library of Congress and is preserved in the National Film Registry. The sad thing is, I’ve heard musicians (after watching the movie) ask where they can catch the band…hello, it was made in Hollywood – it’s a movie – there was no real band called Spinal Tap until after the movie came out and the actors (who could actually play their instruments) did some special appearances. One of the running gags in the movie is that their drummers keep dying in mysterious and odd circumstances – one drummer from spontaneous human combustion that left a globule on the drum seat, another in a bizarre gardening accident…. It’s a very funny movie.  

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