It has always been Spinal Tap’s destiny to seize the throne of rock & roll while, as only they could put it, ”Stinkin’ Up the Great Outdoors.” Directionless, rock has stumbled from heavy-metal thunder to gangsta rap, a huge musical pizza with a number of toppings. But the public hungers for something new, and Spinal Tap is a steaming helping of future shock.
Playing better than the metal monsters we’re supposed to take seriously (this monster excluded, needless to say), they broke out of Rob Reiner’s 1984 mock rock doc, This Is Spinal Tap, and escaped into reality, swooping down like a Klingon bird of prey, scooping up arenas full of screaming fans. They know one heroic battle cry, ”Break Like the Wind,” and anyone foolish enough to stand against them will be blown away.
The Return of Spinal Tap, the film of their reunion concert in London’s Albert Hall, is interspersed with skits featuring Kenny Rogers, Mel Torme, and Martin Short, and band interviews in the style of the original movie. If you want to know what it was like to grow up knowing squat in Squatney, this is the documentary of the century.
What really fried me here is when they hatch out of their gigantic eggshells and sweat on stage. ”(Listen to the) Flower People,” ”Hell Hole,” ”Sex Farm,” ”Bitch School” — their hits blast all humanity into submission. The high points include the now-obligatory unplugged segment and ”Christmas With the Devil,” with its procession of real (as opposed to musical) dwarfs.
After watching this tape a second time, all I could think of was Macbeth: ”Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
But then, they probably already knew that. A+