Album Reviews


Spinal Tap

Break Like The Wind  Hear it Now

RS: 3of 5 Stars


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Crumbling under the weight of a tiny Stonehenge, Spinal Tap split up in 1984 – leaving "Big Bottom" and "Sex Farm" to the annals of classic rock. Break Like the Wind marks the band's reunion and, by some bizarre twist of fate, coincides with heavy metal's resurgence in popularity and sales. Until recently, guitarist-vocalist Nigel Tufnel had been adrift in the murky waters of a solo career, making a kind of gumbo of African music, Polynesian music and even the obscure sounds of the Pee-Wee Islands off Tasmania. In January, he told Rolling Stone, "What we're saying with this album is 'We're back Join us, won't you, in a consumer sense.'"

Sure, this is a joke, but Spinal Tap is a joke that everyone is in on – unlike most metal, which some people think isn't funny. Tufnel, guitarist-vocalist David St. Hubbins and bassist Derek Smalls are great parodists, from their absurd British pomp and their bulges swathed in crushed velvet to histrionic guitar solos and the endless exploding-drummer gag. This album, like its predecessor Smell the Glove, covers the obligatory rock & roll ground: sex, women, machismo, romantic longing, a Beatles nod. And to make it modern, Spinal Tap has added an environmental song ("Stinking Up the Great Outdoors"), the influence of world music ("Clam Caravan," which St. Hubbins describes as "a brilliant sort of East Indian sound picture") and an impressive list of guest producers and artists (from the omnipresent Slash to Cher, who hasn't sounded better since "Dark Lady").

On "Majesty of Rock," Spinal Tap mocks metal titans (AC/DC, Black Sabbath, even Zep) and their spiritual children: "That's the majesty of rock!/The mystery of roll!/The darning of the sock/The scoring of the goal!/The farmer takes a wife/The barber takes a pole." Clever criticism disguised as bathroom humor, Break Like the Wind amplifies the absurdity of pop music in general. After all, Nigel, Derek and David are fellas who would proudly check into the Beverly Wilshire under the alias Richard Head. (RS 627)


(Posted: Apr 2, 1992)


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