Friday, August 05, 2011

FDF Volume 3 Issue 235 - Spinal Tap - Break Like the Wind

By: March

Disclaimer – By now people realize this was a “made up band”. I realize this as well. Rather than try to be funny, and continue with the parody I'll treat this like any other release from a band (fictional or otherwise) with the write up and where are they now etc.

Album – Break Like the Wind
Artist – Spinal Tap
Key Players - Derek Smalls – bass and vocals. David St.Hubbins – guitar and vocals. Nigel Tufnel – lead guitars and vocals. Caucasian Jeffery Vanston – keyboards. Ric Shrimpton - drums

Produced By - Danny Kortchmar

Release Date - 1992

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I can honestly admit hardly a week will pass that I don't think of, or quote something from the film. I tend to focus on the “black album” and don't, or haven't spent much time on the others, so this was just a good excuse.

Overview – This was the follow up album from the band “Spinal Tap”. Their debut was the soundtrack for the film “This is Spinal Tap”. This is the 13th (fictional) or 2nd “legit” release from the band

FDF Comments (aka the songs) We get hit right away with the bass and drums as “Bitch School” starts. St.Hubbins has the lead vocals and has a certain ring to his voice. The guitars are crunchy and the drums are straight forward. Smalls bass work is a little hidden but he and Tufnel offer some harmonies on the chorus before the first guitar solo gets underway. Shrimpton shows attention to his ride cymbal and the band follows the standard rock format of verse/chorus/verse. “The Majesty of Rock” has a quicker tempo than the opener. The band falls in to the mystic, magic type feeling. The keyboards are big and there are big orchestral feeling sweeps. The style will get you to crack a smile for their overall vibe on the song. The lyrics are sung quickly but it is the over the top feeling of the music that is fun. Tufnel gives a quick guitar solo with an instrumental breakdown along with him. Shrimpton hits the drums pretty hard as Smalls slides down the bass strings. Dweezil Zappa sits in on guitar and opens “Diva Fever” with a punch. The lyrics are chanted and sung quickly about how the band can't go back to places, or women of their past. Zappa gets to really show off, I honestly never knew he was as strong as he is. He gets a few turns to really show off, and he doesn't disappoint. Another one that blew my mind was singing backing vocals on “Just Begin Again” was none other than Cher. Yes..that Cher (is there another?) A much mellower track, full of a string section and piano intro to boot. The band shows their sensitive side. The first part Cher is hardly heard, but she gets a solo verse after a Tufnel guitar solo. St.Hubbins sings along with Cher at times as well and the two sound quite good together and at one point both holding a high note almost comically long. A fun and funny head scratcher of a song. The rock comes back with “Cash on Delivery” with the guitars both feeding off one another. Timothy B.Schmit (The Eagles) offers up backing vocals with Tommy Funderburk. The song has that big 70's arena rock sing along feel to it. The harmonies in the backing vocals are strong and the Tap never fails when it comes to a guitar solo, short or long. Smalls gets to run off the bass before the return of the verses. “The Sun Never Sweats” comes at you with some neat synth and guitars working in tandem. The band does have a big sound more often than not. The vocals are clear and the harmonies continue to be strong. The band has struck a chord, because the sun doesn't does it? Good point guys. The guitar solo is quick and to the point, before the band finds a neat syncopation to change things up before the verse resumes. We keep with a “sun” theme in “Rainy Day Sun”. This track as a beatles type feel. The piano intro and the vocals sung only through the right channel will do that. The London Panharmonic Orchestra compliment the piano work from Nicky Hopkins and the strings continue to round things out. The orchestral part is rather long and really breaks the mold for the bands sound. “Break Like the Wind” is chock full of guitar guests. Tufnel will take the middle solo, but Slash, Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani all play on the track as well as Steve Lukather from the band Toto. The early verse has you unsure where these guitar players are, but after part of the first verse it all opens up. Once the guitars do come in, do they ever come in. Each player gets a run and you can pick out the styles pretty easily, with each screeching higher than the last and playing faster than the last. It all ends on a big note and you breathe a sigh of relief. “Stinking up the Great Outdoors” follows with Jimmy Wood on harmonica opening the track before St.Hubbins starts to sing. Waddy Wacchtel provides a great slide guitar solo over this fun bluesy stomp rocker. Tufnel takes the lead vocals on “Springtime”. The track still has the big rock feel but has more keyboard work from Vanston than other tracks. Tufnel sounds great, with a little more of a soothing voice than St.Hubbins, but each fills the correct moment so it is a nice mix. The track has sort of an odd approach after the second verse, seemingly falling apart before it comes back around. “Clam Caravan” is another track that Tufnel take the lead vocals on. Luis Conte adds percussion and Steve Lukather piano. Tufnel spreads his wings even more playing the Coral Sitar. This is the most mellow, ballad sounding track on the album. Tufnel is laid back in the vocals and once the sitar comes in the band has you feeling as though you are in a caravan. It is a little plodding at times, but the band continues to shine by not just playing, or doing the things you think a rock band should. Schmit and Funderburk offer vocal back ups on “Christmas with the Devil”. A rock and roll Christmas song, you don't hear this on the radio at the holidays..time to fix that folks. It could be the extended guitar solo that keeps people away, not really sure but it rips pretty darn good. Track 13 is not listed on the liner notes or in the lyrics. A piano track with spoken lyrics, almost more of a story told by St.Hubbins and Tufnel It is less than 2:30 long as well. The album wraps up with the track “All the Way Home” a song the band mentions (and sings a capella in the film). This time around it has a more rockabilly feel with the guitars and drums. The recording has the “rough demo” sound to it as well which adds a nice touch.

Where are they now? - As far as “Spinal Tap” the band would release a third album in 2009 called “Back from the Dead”. This was viewed as a 25th Anniversary Tour/Album etc. Harry Shearer (Derek Smalls) continues to voice multiple characters on “The Simpsons”.

Christopher Guest (Nigel Tufnel)- has been married to actress Jamie Lee Curtis since 1984. Guest has worked in film and music in various roles for years.

Michael McKean (David St.Hubbins)- has kept busy with TV roles, (Winning a celebrity Jeopardy tournamnet) working on stage, screen. He continues to play music as well.

All three of them have extensive reumes. Reading their wiki pages alone will impress most.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) – Yes, Spinal Tap has toured, yet I did not go see them. Shame on me.

FDF Overall Take – There are moments for sure. As noted the band are VERY accomplished musicans. They write and play very well together and with others. Some of the lyrics will get you to roll your eyes, but chuckle at the same time. If anyone was to look for Tap music they'd probably go with the albums soundtrack as that is the most familiar. Still, this is worth tracking down, even of its just for “Bitch School” and the guitar solos.


A very good fan site is here.

Curious? Check out some Music!

Here is the trailer for the film:


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