SPINAL TAP – Back From The Dead (2009 CD/DVD)
It seems like ages since Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls have graced the metal masses with new music. 17 years ago came Break Like The Wind, an album which sounded just as great as it smelled. Now, finally, after the odd show and a couple internet singles, The Tap has returned with the aptly titled Back From The Dead. However, I do want you to understand that nobody has actually died (this time).
The not-dead Causasian Jeffery Vanston has returned on keyboards, still filling in for the very dead Viv Savage. Gregg Bisonette (David Lee Roth), also gratefully still alive, is the drummer on these recordings. Other living souls guesting on the album include Phil Collen, Keith Emerson, Steve Vai, and John Mayer.
All songs are studio recordings, as opposed to the “live” versions as heard on the soundtrack to This Is Spinal Tap. As such they all sound a little more sterile. Nothing here is really superior to the versions we all know and love from that piece of character assassination on celeloid. They all sound a little more stuffy, a little flat in comparison. However, these being classic songs, they are still an enjoyable listen, and performed remarkably well.
There are some new songs and some new arrangements, as well as some oldies finally seeing the light of day! These include:
“Back From The Dead” — an older internet single finally released on CD. Tufnel’s backing vocals are a bit shrill and weak, but otherwise the song rocks proudly and strongly.
“(Funky) Sex Farm” — sadly, not the funky version from the Return Of Spinal Tap TV special, this is a slower less funky version. Still funky though.
“Jazz Oddyssey” (parts I, II, and III) — Wisely breaking up this tedious, yet historic recording into three parts!
“Rock N’ Roll Nightmare” — St. Hubbins growls his way through this stomper, something that truly lives up to and maybe even exceeds the heady Tap legacy. The premier release of an oldie but goodie, this is the best “new” song.
“(Listen to The) Flower People (Reggae Stylee)” — As the title suggests, Tap have finally conquered Reggae. But fear not, a more authentic version is also available (more on that later).
“Celtic Blues” — A very brief song (1:25) that actually sounds quite like their opening act, The Folksmen. Strange coincidence, I can’t figure out why they sound so similar.
“Warmer Than Hell” — Another internet single finally released on CD. Tap want to stop Global Warming, and this is their attempt. Yes, Tap have heard of Global Warming!
“Short And Sweet” — Actually quite long (6:35), this is another rocker sung by St. Hubbins.
The rest of the album is rounded out by the classic songs that we know and love from the movie. But wait! There’s more! Three more to be exact! But you have to get these elsewhere on your own.
“Saucy Jack” — Finally, St. Hubbins’ long unreleased song from his Jack The Ripper musical has seen the light of day. It is a delightful, jaunty track and available for free on their website.
“Sex Farm (2009)” — A more authentic version of the classic song about a farm of fornication, as opposed to the funky version. This is available for download on the iTunes version.
“(Listen to the) Flower People (2009)” — A more authentic version than the reggae one on the CD proper. This one, perhaps, almost exceeds the original 1967 version! Unfortunately you can only get this from Amazon digital downloads, and there’s no such thing in Canada. I still managed to get this song from my longtime friend Dan Slessor who writes for Kerrang!
Finally, Tap have given the loyal, faithful (but not Ian Faith-ful) fans a DVD. This DVD offers the band’s commentary on the tracks. Absolutely essential if you want to understand just what the band was thinking (or not thinking) at the time.
And, also finally, the packaging: Tap have outdone themselves. How can you top a black album cover when you can simply get none-more-black? Tap are not content with 2 dimensions, so they have entered a 3rd. The cover unfolds into a stage, complete with Stonehenge monument, and miniature St. Hubbins, Tufnel, and Smalls figures. A little small Smalls! How quaint! The drawback is that it is very difficult to wedge the discs in and out of the case when it is all folded up in case form — but perhaps this was the idea all along.
[According to metalsucks.net, the case takes 20 minutes to assemble, and I’ve never tried, preferring to keep mine original.]
4/5 stars. Not a perfect return from the dead, but This Is Spinal Tap.