- Audio CD (June 16 2009)
- Number of Discs: 2
- Label: A2M
- ASIN: B00278FSXM
- Other Editions: Audio CD | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #52,755 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Back from the Dead
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The loudest Rock band in the World, Spinal Tap, Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls have announced that they will be returning to the UK this June to kick off their one time only exclusive special show at London's Wembley Arena with very special guests The Folksmen. 2009 marks the 25th anniversary of the iconic cult classic rock movie 'This is Spinal Tap' and Spinal Tap are celebrating this in a big way! By reuniting for the 'One Night Only World Tour'. Featuring reworkings of classic Tap tunes alongside new Tap songs, with accompanying DVD giving a 60 minutes track by track rundown from Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins and Derek Smalls.
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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 brand new stomper, something that truly lives up to and maybe even exceeds the heady Tap legacy. Best new track.
"(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 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 elsewhere (at a price).
"(Listen to the) Flower People (2009)" -- Other Amazon sites are offering this, a more authentic version than the reggae one on the CD. This one, perhaps, almost exceeds the original 1967 version!
And, lastly, Tap have given the loyal, faithful (but not Ian faithful) 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 lastly, 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.
4 stars. Not a perfect return from the dead, but this is Spinal Tap.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The CD has a bit of new material, but mostly consists of new versions of Tap classics. While some of the new versions are amusing, in every instance the original recordings are better. "Jazz Odyssey" is presented as a three track monstrosity, and I enjoyed it nearly as much as the festival crowd did when it was originally performed on the "Smell the Glove" tour. The packaging is very clever, but not very sturdy. It folds out into a diorama of the band performing. It also makes extracting the CD and DVD from the case very difficult without damaging one or the other.
The genius in the package is in the bonus DVD where the band discusses various songs and issues that brought the band to where it is today. It contains about an hour or so of interviews, and fully justifies the price of the album all by itself. I gave the album four stars as the bar has been set so high by previous Tap works; this one didn't quite make it to 11.
Thoughts on the songs:
The music tracks are either Smell The Glove tunes re-recorded/re-arranged or studio versions of "new" songs that they have been playing live for various events/concerts. It's nice to have a non-MP3 version of "Back From The Dead" and "Rock and Roll Nightmare" is great piece of Tap history, but really those are the only tracks I care to listen to. I'm with the other reviewers on this one, what we really needed was a sequel to "Break Like The Wind"...what a legitimately awesome album (sigh).
Thoughts on the DVD:
The most disappointing thing in watching the track by track commentary is the lack of energy in the interview performances. Even a bad joke can be saved by enthusiasm, but they're not even trying here. The only good riff is when they talk about Jazz music and David talks about Miles Davis covering up his trumpet, "What was wrong with him?"
Owning all the albums and both DVD versions of the film, my love of Spinal Tap and their legacy is boundless. I saw Spinal Tap live in L.A. during the anniversary tour in 2001 after the Back From The Dead MP3 was released via Tapster and they were great. I just recently attended the Phoenix "Unwigged and Unplugged" show and was slightly saddened by the lack of energy although the set list was fun. I think it's just the end of the road for some brilliant performers who have finally worn out the joke. At least they gave us some great memories.
"Back From the Dead" was written for the band's 2001 reunion tour.
"Jazz Oddyssey" is Tap showing jazz musicians how jazz should "really" be played. It is broken into three parts, presumably because the unedited version would be too hard to take.
"Rock 'N' Roll Nightmare" is around 30 years old, but has never been on an album before.
"Celtic Blues" is a short a capella song.
"Warmer Than Hell" is a song about global warming that was written for Live Earth.
"Short and Sweet" is a new song co-written by actress Annette O'Toole.
Besides the CD, there is also a DVD where the members of the group explain how they got the ideas for the songs. Long live Spinal Tap!