They’re loud, they’re misogynist, they’re wasted, they’re extremely stupid, and they have armadillos in their trousers. This is Spinal Tap was essentially the first and still the best episode of Behind the Music ever. The good times, the mismanagement, the drug problems, the bankruptcy, and the comeback. They make Motley Crue seem like a well oiled machine
Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer pulled the coolest life stunt ever. Who wouldn’t rather be a rock star? Who doesn’t consider themselves the coolest man or woman without a rock catalog in the world? Who else gets to act and dress and speak exactly how they feel all the time? They created these cleverly likable goofy personas for themselves, wrote and played an entire musical history and defied everyone not to believe it was true. Someone could say these guys have been playing this heavy metal superstar parody way too long, but it isn’t merely them trying to milk it. It’s the fact that they get to be these stupid king of the world characters whenever they want to. What were the Beatles if not the coolest club in the world?
It’s a wonder how much the truth and legend have blurred. After all their music is as skillful, rocking and sexually silly as anything the Rolling Stones have put out since the movie debuted in 1984, their characters are as entertaining to hang around as David Lee Roth ever was, and in the process they decimated and ridiculed 25 years of hyper serious rockumentaries like The Song Remains The Same, that Pink Floyd movie where the guy keeps asking for Apple Pie without the crust, any number of Rolling Stones dramas, and U2’s Rattle and Hum four years before it even came out.
This Is Spinal Tap is a weird little love triangle over Lead Singer David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean, previously pretty damn cool as 50s singing guitarist Lenny Kosnowski) between his girlfriend and hard rocking Jeff Beck look alike Lead Guitarist Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest). It’s a little like if Paul McCartney contested his divorce from John Lennon. When Nigel finds out that the Yoko-esque Jeanine is joining the tour he looks like he is about to start crying. The rest of the movie approximates a tour film about their comeback album Smell the Glove. Unfortunately it was filmed right at the cut off point from when they were absolutely the coolest to them at their most immediately passe, and yet not nearly as pathetic as
It’s all here. The terrible heavy metal band that hung on a little too long. The bad record reviews. The open mouth sores. The visits to
’t be played. The bass trio of Big Bottom. The amps that go to 11. The fabulous Little Sandwich Tirade. The canceled gigs. The cricket mallet. The Psychedelic period. The embryo that wouldn’t open. The
A towering achievement in cinema, music, and life art. Funnier and more prescient every time I see it. Any time they tour I will be there.