SPINAL TAP – Break Like the Wind (1992)
Almost a decade after the movie, the “black album” (Smell The Glove), and the near-breakup, Spinal Tap returned! Even Marty DiBergi’s documentary could not keep Tap down, and setting aside their differences, they created this reunion album. Mostly new material with some oldies sprinkled in, Break Like The Wind was yet another masterpiece by the Tap.
The lineup was: David St. Hubbins (guitar, vocals), Nigel Tufnel (guitar, vocals) and Derek Smalls (bass, vocals) with new additions Ric (brother of Mick) Shrimpton (drums) and Caucasian Jeffrey Vanston (keys).
It turns out that previous keyboardist Viv Savage was a drummer prior to joining Spinal Tap. He failed to tell them this, and well, he befell the same fate as countless Tap drummers.
From the beginning, like so many Tap albums past, Break Like The Wind was misunderstood. The first single “Bitch School” was about a dog, but many chose a sexist interpretation. This simple rocker is an upbeat catchy single and indicative of the new Tap sound.
The regal “Majesty of Rock” is second. This track was chosen as second single. St. Hubbins dares to ask the deep questions within the framework of a 4 minute pop rock single. “When we die, do we haunt the sky? Do we lurk in the murk of the seas? What then? Are we born again? Just to sit asking questions like these?” An excellent question David.
I do not know why Nigel seemed prone to wearing wetsuits during this period.
Tap turn it up a notch on “Diva Fever”, a fast one to give Metallica a run for their money! A man named Dweezil plays the blistering guitar solo. What an odd moniker.
Just when you thought you could get none more regal, the queen herself, Cher, turns up to duet with David on the gorgeous ballad “Just Begin Again”. With strings and horns beside them, Tap deliver another classic.The lyrics are again deep: never give up, never surrender! Just begin again! As David says in the words, “Life is just a meal, And you never say when!” And if people stand in your way and say enough is enough? “Make the bastards eat their words!” says David!
Derek Smalls takes his first lead vocal on “Cash On Delivery”, a fun rocker advising the listener how Smalls prefers to do business. It rocks along nice.
This is followed by a remake on an old classic, “The Sun Never Sweats” the title track of course from the album The Sun Never Sweats. Nigel’s solo is among the highlights of this classic.
And then, a long lost rarity, “Rainy Day Sun”. It was the B-side to their hit “(Listen to the) Flower People”. Here it is released on CD for the first time, gloriously swirly, psychedelic, and digitally remastered. This ends side one of the original album. If you are listening to a CD, please do not attempt to remove and play the other side.
Side two began with Tap’s first epic since the mighty “Stonehenge”: “Break Like The Wind” itself. Melding middle eastern melody with modern instrumental flare, this one is surprisingly beautiful. Smalls’ bass weaves in and out, as David and Nigel play simple guitar melodies. But all comes crashing down by the time of the powerful guitar solos, and Tap rock once more!
As a surprise to their friend Nigel, the band erased most of his guitar solos and replaced it with other people playing! Four of the greatest guitarists of the 90’s stepped in for Nigel: Slash, Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather, and Jeff Beck. None more epic.
From there, Tap can only disappoint. “Stinkin’ Up The Great Outdoors”, a protest song, is worth protesting.
Nigel finally sings his first lead vocal on “Springtime”, a welcome change of pace. Nigel follows it with “Clam Caravan”, from his solo project. The title was supposed to be spelled “Calm Caravan”, but Nigel liked the misspelled version. “Clam Caravan” is another middle-eastern sounding song, and it lulls you off gently…
Only to be awakened by “Christmas With the Devil”! This is a re-recording of their classic Christmas single from the mid 1980’s. This sonically superior version is even more evil than the original. Happy holidays, to all the children!
The hidden track “Now Leaving” follows, questioning what life is worth if you’re on life support? All three members bring their thoughts to the table, but I think David asks the most eloquent question. “Shall he lie there forever with a tube up his nose, And his peepee and poopoo slipping out through a hose?”
I do not know David, I do not know.
Thankfully, these mortal thoughts are ended by the beginning of “All the Way Home”. You may remember from the film that this was the first song that David and Nigel ever wrote. Finally, their original 1961 demo was found and restored, and mastered for its CD release. This closes the album.
I do not know if the general public felt differently about this album than I do, for Tap did not release another album for 17 years!