spinal tap

REVIEW: Derek Smalls – Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Aging)

DEREK SMALLS – Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Aging) (2018 BMG)

So very desperately, I wanted this to be good.  Alas, it is very very remotely far from anything good.  It’s not the line between clever and stupid; it’s just foul smelling putridity.  Spinal Tap’s bassist Derek Smalls, who might be best known for his “Jazz Odyssey”, cannot hold a tune.  There must be a reason why Smalls sings the fewest lead vocals of the three Spinal Tap members.  He’s all but unlistenable.

The gimmick on Smalls Change is twofold.  It’s a collection of songs about getting old, which is a crappy concept to start with.  There is nothing wrong with songs that have some life experience, but who wants to listen to a tune about an MRI?  Who wants to think about it all?  The second gimmick is the roster of guests:  old fogie buddies like David Crosby, Steve Lukather, Paul Shaffer, and so on.  There are few somewhat younger folks here too, such as Dweezil Zappa, Joe Satriani, Chad Smith, and Phil X.  But the guest stars can’t save it.  Admittedly, the lyrics are sometimes funny.  “Butt Call” is about butt dialing!  “Nobody speaks, handset by the cheeks.”  “Memo to Willie” is about erectile disfunction (get it?), a subject I’m sure you like singing about as well.  Then there’s “Gummin’ the Gash” which you can figure out for yourself.

The biggest problem is the voice, which is a cross between a garbage disposal and Otto the bus driver.*  No amount of Spinal Tap references can save it.  When the singer cannot sing, then Houston we have a problem.  And the thing goes on for 14 tuneless tracks!  An hour of gargling words out in an English accent.  Without a David St. Hubbins or a Nigel Tufnel to carry the melody, Smalls is sunk.  When there is an actual melody, that is.

We sadly have to proclaim Smalls Change as the worst, most unlistenable album of 2018.  Clearly, a lot of time and money went into making it, but don’t invest any of yours.

1/5 stars

* Yes, of course we know that Derek Smalls is played by Simpsons actor Harry Shearer.  If Otto was British, this could have been his album.

 

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Sunday Chuckle: Smalls Change

Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) of Spinal Tap has finally released his new solo album Smalls Change.  (This is a followup to the fictional 1970s album It’s a Smalls World).  It features such guests such as Joe Satriani and Phil X (must have been paid over $10,000 for this one eh Deke?)  The subject matter on the album includes butt-dialing and gummer-giving.

I know a certain Sausagefester who has dentures so I thought he’d dig the lyrics about gummers (“Gumming the Gash”).  I tried to tell him.  It didn’t go well.

 

#667: Cancer Chronicles 11

You might have noticed I’ve been quiet the last few days. I have not been able to respond to comments. The reason is, once again, I am supporting someone who has cancer. This person is very close to both Jen and I. They just had their successful surgery yesterday.  Now, on to chemo.

It’s all very much deja-vu.  Hotel rooms out of town, hospital waiting rooms, doctors and nurses.  Yesterday we clocked 10 hours waiting at the hospital.  That’s a long day — longer than a work day, and twice as tiring.  My dad said to me, “I think you deserve the Congressional Medal of Honor”.  But that’s only for Americans.  I’ll settle for a plate of sushi at the end of it.

Fuck cancer.  Two weeks ago, an original Sausagefester died of cancer.  I’ve known him for 23 years.  Some of the guys have known him since childhood.  His absence this summer will be deeply felt.  We will all miss our friend in the orange boiler suit.

These are dark days.  Neither of them wanted any online attention, so I’m being purposely vague.   Just know that 2018 has already taken a toll, and it’s only 1/4 of the way done.

Music has been a blessing, as always.  Yesterday the clever frivolity of Spinal Tap kept my spirits up.  It’s impossible not to laugh at the absurd “Stonehenge” or the just plain funny “Big Bottom”.  (“Talk about bum cakes, my girl’s got em.”)

Fuck the dark days.  I do not want to be dragged down by them.  I also don’t want any more of my loved ones to get sick, but we know we have no control over that.  That is the struggle of life.  All I can do is try to keep smiling.  So here’s Spinal Tap.  Enjoy.

 

Look for Derek Smalls’ solo debut, Smalls Change, April 13 2018.

VIDEO REVIEW: Spinal Tap – “B*tch School” (1992 CD single)

SPINAL TAP – “Bitch School” (1992 MCA CD single)

From the album Break Like the Wind

 

 

REVIEW: Spinal Tap – This is Spinal Tap (soundtrack remastered)

SPINAL TAP – The Original Soundtrack Recording from the Motion Picture “This is Spinal Tap” (1984, 2010 Universal remaster)

In true Spinal Tap fashion, it turned out that I reviewed their albums in the wrong order.  I went backwards, and the soundtrack to the motion picture This is Spinal Tap is the last Tap album for me to scrutinize.  Though Spinal Tap is a parody band made of actors Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer, it is easier to just refer to them as David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel, and Derek Smalls.

If you happened to go through life without owning a single soundtrack album, then you must reverse that situation immediately.  All self-respecting rock fans must be able to laugh at the absurdities of their favourite genres, and Spinal Tap represent every mis-step that legendary rock bands ever took.  Spinal Tap forced real life rockers such as Judas Priest and Ronnie James Dio to laugh at themselves; a healthy undertaking.  Even though some artists didn’t see the humour in the movie This is Spinal Tap, others did and were quick to claim that certain scenes were actually based upon them!

The single/video “Hell Hole” opens the album, a rare Nigel lead vocal with David St. Hubbins on the chorus.  According to the helpful liner notes, this track was from Tap’s then-new reunion album, Smell the Glove.  Scorching guitar from St. Hubbins and Tufnel; slamming drums from Mick Shrimpton and spot-on organ by Viv Savage: it’s all here.  And let’s not forget the band’s secret weapon Derek Smalls on bass and backing vocals, thickening up the mix like a good brown gravy….

I always think of “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight” as the song on which something is all but guaranteed to go wrong, live.  In the studio it’s a taut rocker with explicit lyrics:  “You’re sweet but you’re just four feet and you still got your baby teeth, you’re too young and I’m too well-hung but tonight I’m gonna rock ya!”  Lock up your daughters, but you don’t want to miss this scorching classic from 1974’s Intravenus de Milo.

“Heavy Duty” is a concert classic, originally from Bent for the Rent (1976), but to me it has long overstayed its welcome.  It is a mere skeleton of a song with not enough raw meat.  It does ask an important question in the lyrics, “Why waste good music on the brain?”  Interesting inquiry David; something to get the metal masses thinking.  For fans of Nigel Tufnel’s signature shredding, you will find much to love in his solo for “Heavy Duty”.  Moving forward to 1977, we are next treated to the title track from Rock and Roll Creation, Tap’s misguided collection of rock and roll psalms.  Thankfully the track “Rock and Roll Creation” itself boasts one of the band’s strongest choruses, though it is certainly hard to forget the scene in the movie when Derek fails to escape his pod.

The liner notes say that “America” is previously unreleased (I did not know that).  It was barely in the film.  This duet between Nigel and David boasts some heavy riffing, but not much in terms of melody.  Lyrically the song recounts the experience of Spinal’s visits to America, “pretty womens everywhere, Brady Bunch and Smokey Bear!”

Side one of the soundtrack closes with “Cups and Cakes”, a pre-Tap single from 1965 when they were still known as The Thamesmen.  This is a Tufnel creation about having tea.  Predating Sgt Peppers by two years, obviously the Beatles must have taken inspiration from “Cups and Cakes” for their own songs.  Strings and trumpets create the backing music while nary a rock instrument can be heard.

The legendary “Big Bottom” (from Brainhammer, 1973) was given some legitimacy when Soundgarden decided to cover it (as a medley with Cheech and Chong’s “Earache My Eye”).  In this track all the axemen play bass — there are no guitars!  Opening side two with a song that is all bass and no guitar was probably a genius move.  I just can’t explain why.  I’m just assuming. Unfortunately when Soundgarden covered it, they did it with guitars, failing to capture the mighty bass necessary to sing a song about bums.

“My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo, I’d like to sink her with my pink torpedo”

From 1980’s poorly reviewed Shark Sandwich is the riffy “Sex Farm”.  Though Shark Sandwich might be considered one of Tap’s worst, “Sex Farm” is one of their most enduring anthems.  Readers of my regular feature here, Record Store Tales, may recall that my good friend Uncle Meat got written up at work for playing this song in store.  Supposedly somebody called in to complain about the lyrics.  This is Spinal Tap is his favourite movie of all time.  “I realize there is some innuendo,” says Meat.  “‘Plowin’ through your beanfield’…I just, you know, the thought of someone allegedly being so offended by Spinal Tap…” he trailed off.  (You can see the story in video form here, as this very CD was one of the Top Five Albums that Got Us in Shit at the Record Store.)

The best tune on 1975’s The Sun Never Sweats was undoubtedly “Stonehenge”, and I would argue that it remains the greatest Spinal Tap song of all time.  It is hard to encapsulate this opus in mere English.  Tap take us on a trip back in time with both Tufnel and St. Hubbins sharing lead vocals.  The mandolin break at the end is one of Tap’s most famous musical moments, as it is there that things often seem to go wrong in concert, regarding the giant Stonehenge prop that is supposed to appear on stage.

In my last year of high school, my mom bought me this soundtrack on cassette.  That helped enable a group of my friends to do a Spinal Tap “air band” at our school’s annual air band competition!  Lacking a mandolin player, they instead snagged one of our math teachers who played banjo, and had him come out on stage dancing in lederhosen.  Absolutely brilliant.  I’m glad to have participated in it in my own small way of lending the tape.  Bringing Spinal Tap to the highschool masses?  There must be an award for that.

The album comes to an end with two oldies-but-goodies.  Back to the Thamesmen days, it’s 1965’s “Gimme Some Money”, the flip side to “Cups and Cakes”.  The drummer was John “Stumpy” Pepys (Ed Begley Jr.), a “tall blonde geek with glasses” according to David.  Pepys died in a bizarre gardening accident.  This artifact from their skiffle period is best remembered for Nigel’s cool guitar solo.  “Go Nigel, Go!”  Then finally it’s “(Listen to the) Flower People” from the cumbersome titled Spinal Tap Sings “Listen to the Flower People” and Other Favourites (1967).  The drummer on this track was Eric “Stumpy Joe” Childs, who sadly choked to death on vomit (not his own) in 1974.  What is especially interesting about this track is Nigel’s use of the sitar, a full two years after George Harrison did on Rubber Soul.  Spinal Tap were exploiting the hippy movement and this track was one of their greatest successes.

The remastered CD comes with two bonus tracks!  The non-album single (1984) for “Christmas With the Devil” is presented in two mixes, one from the A-side and one from the B-side.  Prior to this, the only version of “Christmas With the Devil” available on CD was the re-recorded one on 1992’s Break Like the Wind.  The original single version(s) remained obscure until 2000, when Universal released them here.  Now finally having them all, I must say I prefer the 1992 version best.  The original does have a little more pep in its step, and there is a Christmas message from the band at the end.  The “scratch mix” of the single is not much different.

All joking aside, it’s crucial to remember that these guys (the actors) were not musical slouches.  Michael McKean was nominated for an Oscar award, for his music in 2003’s A Mighty Wind.  The musicianship is there and it’s intentional humorous.  You can hear musical jokes in the solos of Christopher Guest.  As a result, the soundtrack is not only funny but also timeless.  A good song is a good song is a good song, and some of the tracks here are actually really good when you break them down.  “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight”, “Sex Farm” and especially “Stonehenge” are all really good songs when it comes down to it!

In the real world, all the songs were written by the trio of Guest, McKean and Shearer with director Rob Reiner.  The drums were handled by R.J. Parnell of Atomic Rooster, who played Mick Shrimpton in the movie.  On keyboards is David Kaff (Rare Bird) otherwise known as Viv Savage from the film.  (Rare Bird are probably best remembered as the band who originally did “Sympathy”, later covered by Marillion.)  The album was self-produced.  There is no questioning the chops of the musicians involved.  It’s hard to create a musical joke of album length that is still fun to listen to 30 years later.

4/5 stars

#366: 50 Shades of Piss

BAG

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#366: 50 Shades of Piss

A sequel to #355 “The man’s hot piss warmed my freezing hands”

STOPARRET
Sensitive readers might be best advised to not read on, unless on an empty stomach.

Regular readers have already met Joe aka “Big Nose”, the most unique Record Store manager in the history of record stores. Still there today, slinging CDs to the masses, Joe is a phenomenon. The only thing he likes more than baseball might be taking a pee with the door wide open. He is a very different person, with a heart of gold and a bladder of steel.

However, sometimes when you gotta pee, you just gotta pee…door or no door.

Joe was living in an apartment in Waterloo with a couple guys. One morning after a long night of partying, Joe awoke to find his path to the washroom blocked by passed-out bodies. When you gotta pee, you gotta pee, so Joe improvised.

He fashioned a piss bag from an old plastic grocery bag he found on the floor. After relieving himself into the bag, he tied it off securely and looked for a way to get rid of it. The only easily accessible option was the window, so out it went, onto the lawn below.

I believe that Joe enjoyed this new method of relieving oneself, because he tells me that he launched more than one piss bag out the window over the course of the next few days. Until the landlord complained.

“I keep finding these grocery bags outside,” said the landlord. “Stop throwing them on the grass!”

If only he knew!

But that’s Joe. He seems to get some kind of perverse enjoyment out of relieving himself in the least labor-intensive way. In fact it has been confirmed that me that the stories are true: Joe has indeed shit in the shower. Way back in Record Store Tales Part 41, I wrote that somebody I knew claimed to shit in the shower.  Today, an informant named “Uncle Meat” has since told me that this is true.  Joe would either poop directly into his hands and drop the deuce into the toilet; or if it was a smaller shit, he would simply mash it down the drain with his foot. I had long considered these tales to be nothing more than myths.  But the stories were so bizarre, I really wanted them to be true.  Just so I can say I know a guy who proudly shits in the shower, you know?

Even though Joe is just a lil’ different from the average bear, he’s always been a solid, stand-up trustworthy guy.  He is a man of integrity and a serious who-gives-a-shit attitude when it comes to the norms of society.  I just don’t want to share an apartment with him, or need to use the shower at his place.

Sausagefest XIII: The Complete Countdown

Without further adieu, I present to you the Top 75 songs from this year’s Countdown.  Only a handful of my songs made the Countdown this year:  Sound City Players‘ “Your Wife is Calling”, Black Sabbath‘s “Damaged Soul”, “Hush” by Deep Purple, Dio‘s “Rainbow in the Dark”, and “Stonehenge” by Spinal Tap.

1 More Human Than Human White Zombie
2 Red Tide Rising Orange Goblin
3 Welcome to the Family Avenged Sevenfold
4 Awake Godsmack
5 Dirty Deeds (Done Dirt Cheap) AC/DC
6 Detroit Rock City KISS
7 Fuck Her Gently Tenacious D
8 Give Up the Funk Parliament
9 Subdivisions Rush
10 A Warriors Call Volbeat
11 A Lil Piece of Heaven Avenged Sevenfold
12 Back in Black AC/DC
13 Dying Earth The Sword
14 I Black Sabbath
15 Funk 49 James Gang
16 War Pigs Black Sabbath
17 Hawks and Serpents The Sword
18 Red Hot Mama Funkadelic
19 Man in the Box Alice in Chains
20 Higher Ground Stevie Wonder
21 Children of the Damned Iron Maiden
22 Snowblind Black Sabbath
23 Red Barchetta Rush
24 Master of Puppets Metallica
25 Seek and Destroy Metallica
26 White Rabbit Jefferson Airplane
27 TNT AC/DC
28 Hooker with a Penis Tool
29 Testify Rage Against the Machine
30 Le Grange ZZ Top
31 Chop Suey System of a Down
32 Good Times Bad Times Led Zeppelin
33 Seven Nation Army White Stripes
34 The Wind Cries Mary Jimi Hendrix
35 Aerials System of a Down
36 Save Me Avenged Sevenfold
37 The Veil of Isis The Sword
38 Chapter 4 Avenged Sevenfold
39 Wherever I May Roam Metallica
40 Are You Mine? The Arctic Monkeys
41 The Prisoner Iron Maiden
42 Them Bones Alice in Chains
43 Carry on my Wayward Son Kansas
44 Squonk Genesis
45 Losfer Words Iron Maiden
46 Damaged Soul Black Sabbath
47 Earth Rocker Clutch
48 Stonehenge Spinal Tap
49 Seasons in the Abyss Slayer
50 Under the Sun Black Sabbath
51 Tales of Brave Ulysses Cream
52 Right Place Wrong Time Doctor John
53 A Day in the Life War
54 Hush Deep Purple
55 Slow Ride Foghat
56 Emotional Rescue The Rolling Stones
57 Sign of the Gypsy Queen April Wine
58 Rainbow in the Dark Dio
59 Mongoose Fu Manchu
60 Lies Down
61 Dogs of War Motorhead
62 Money Pink Floyd
63 Wife is Calling Sound City Players
64 Awaken Yes
65 Give it to Me Baby Rick James
66 Frankenstein Edgar Winter Group
67 Where the Devil Don’t Stay Drive By Truckers
68 Machine Gun The Commodores
69 Millionaire Dr Hook
70 Warriors Thin Lizzy
71 Jukebox Hero Foreigner
72 Heart of Gold Neil Young
73 Intro to Reality/Belly of the Beast Anthrax
74 Roller Sasquatch
75 Long Way to the Top AC/DC

 

 

Part 215: Mono

RECORD STORE TALES Part 215:  Mono

Today, I was listening to some old-school Dio, and I had a thought.  A sudden thought that I wanted to explore:

“My taste in music was 100% solidified by that month in 1986 that I had mono!”

Yeah!  I think it’s true!  I was sick at home for a month (at least) too tired to do anything except record videos on the Pepsi Power Hour!  I was inundated with a steady intake of incredible songs, in many cases for the first time.  And because I still have the old VHS tapes, I know exactly what’s on them.  This brief but intense period of my life was rocked by this soundtrack, over and over again:

power hourOzzy Osbourne – “The Ultimate Sin”

Hear N’ Aid – “Stars”

Dio – “Rock and Roll Children”

Black Sabbath – “Die Young”

Lee Aaron – “Shake It Up”

ZZ Top – “Rough Boy”

Kim Mitchell – “Lager and Ale”

Thor (Jon Mikl Thor) – “Keep the Dogs Away”

Triumph – “Never Surrender”

Loudness – “Let It Go”

Spinal Tap – “Hell Hole”, the theme song that my sister and I dedicated to our old Catholic grade school!

These songs were first impressed upon me during that period, the visuals always cool and intriguing to me.  Especially Lee Aaron.  Ahem.  Anyway.  I watched these videos over and over again.   I recorded the audio (in mono) (…hah, I made a pun!) to a cassette so I could listen to them on my Walkman.  This came in handy at the cottage.  We didn’t have a VCR or cable there, so the only way to bring my songs was to tape them from the TV.

That one intense period of being stuck at home with nothing but heavy metal heroes might have made me the LeBrain I am today.  I’m glad something good came out of it!  I couldn’t even go swimming that entire summer!

WTF SEARCH TERMS: 2 Wild LeBrains edition

Happy hump day.  For this edition of WTF, I’ve collected 10 of the weirdest sexual phrases that, somehow, some way, Googled these people to me.  Missed the last edition?  Click here!

BLOODY KISSES

WTF Search Terms IV:  2 Wild LeBrains edition

  1. buttombass
  2. zebra girls black lesbian video
  3. 2 wild lebrains having sex
  4. porn go 69
  5. thussy peing
  6. hot leggs winkel goes
  7. girls in muddy leather pants
  8. alice piss leather pants
  9. pee open door video  (9 hits from this guy??)
  10. And finally:  gou.14.shemale.3.rat.t

See ya next time for more WTFs!

Part 167: VIDEO – Top Five Discs that Got Us in Shit at the Record Store

RECORD STORE TALES Part 167:

Top Five Discs that Got Us in Shit at the Record Store

featuring Uncle Meat