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This album is a bit of an odd one, and not an easy one to review. Essentially, it's a comedy album. Comedy albums have a problem in that after the first few listens, you know the jokes. And more often than not, the jokes are the only reason you buy the album. So, after you've heard these jokes, you're stuck with an album that is no longer funny, and has mediocre music. Spinal Tap's Break Like The Wind overcomes this problem to an extent by giving the listener a decent rock album, along with some genuinely funny lyrics.
When listening to the album, two things become readily apparent - Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer are fans of hard rock and early heavy metal, and they are also musically talented individuals. Anyone can write short segments of rock songs to be played sporadically during a film. It's not so easy to write full length rock songs that can keep you interested in the joke. The reason that most comedic songs last between one and two minutes is that you can only keep something funny going for so long before it just becomes really fucking annoying and obnoxious. Not that there are any grandiose prog rock epics, but most tracks are a decent 3-4 minuets long.
The biggest problem with the music on this album is that Spinal Tap are a parody of rock bands in general. Which means that the album is very diverse to get as many pastiches as it can in there (which means that it doesn't work well in terms as being an album you can sit down and listen to), and also means that there is nothing original on the album. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the music is bad - it can just get very boring depending on your tastes. The variety of the album does have its upside in that most fans of rock and metal will enjoy at least one track on the album, which is aided by the fact that the songs are well written and represent styles without sounding too much like one artist or song. Glam rock/hair metal bands such as Motley Crue and Guns 'n' Roses are represented by tracks like Bitch School, and there's even a hair rock ballad in Just Begin Again (with Cher on guest vocals). Epic, somewhat dark metal is represented by Break Like The Wind (including lengthy guitar solos, and the same three chords repeated then moved up a tone, ad infinitum). Metal and rock bands are known for their penchant for writing about metal and rock, and so we have The Majesty of Rock (and as a side note, 'The more it stays the same / the less it changes' is the most hilarious lyric ever written).
Highlights for the album for me include Rainy Day Sun (an upbeat early 1960s pop/rock track), Majesty of Rock, Christmas With the Devil (the most metal track on the album) and the unlisted 13th track.
It's a funny album that has everything that we all love about Spinal Tap - silly lyrics, and well written parodies of rock music. And after you've done laughing at "I know for I told me so," and "There's a demon in my belly and a gremlin in my brain / There's someone up the chimney-hole, and Satan is his name" you'll be left with at least two or three songs that you can listen to now and then and have a cheap giggle and a smile. Assuming you're not too kvlt to laugh and smile.
“We say love your brother… well we don’t literally say it… well we don’t really believe in it”… Spinal Tap is back for the attack! And I have good news for you all; this album is not just a joke! It’s actually very good! We’ve got great song writing, great singing and great solos. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of humor.
Perhaps those of us over the age of about 18 or so will remember an episode of The Simpsons entitled “The Otto Show” in which Spinal Tap performs at the beginning. And do you also remember seeing the band members illuminated with spot-lights singing “We are the children who grew too fast”? Years later I’ve bought Break Like The Wind and its title track is that same song… and what a song. You wouldn’t expect it, what with this band being a parody of heavy metal but it’s actually an awesome and haunting song which features some totally ass kicking solos by Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani amongst others.
The album has a lot of variety. “Bitch School” (easily the funniest song ever written) is a nice slow tempo deal with a chorus that deserves to have stadiums singing along to it. “The Majesty of Rock” is very operatic and you can really hear that these guys are taking their humor and parody very seriously with the amount of detail they’ve put into songs like this. “Just Begin Again” is a nice little ballad (if you’re the type of metal fan who enjoys a good ballad here and there) which would have sounded better if Cher was not singing in it… don’t worry, she only does one verse and she doesn’t sound too bad. To be honest, female singers get MUCH worse than Cher… but hey, this website and album are about HEAVY FUCKING METAL!
“The Sun Never Sweats”… I can’t even describe this song. I want to laugh out loud out loud at its ridiculous title but the song just kicks too much ass and I find myself singing the lyrics! “Rainy Day Sun” is a return to Spinal Tap’s roots… think “Gimme Some Money” from their 1982 release “This is Spinal Tap”. “Stinkin’ Up The Great Outdoors”… ridiculous and more bluesy than the rest of the album. “Break Like The Wind” I’ve already described as a haunting epic… regardless of its hilarious title.
The album dies in the ass a bit towards the tail end but satisfies nevertheless. So overall we have an album that we would expect to be extremely shitty but is actually very impressive. St. Hubbins, Tufnel and Smalls (to use their character names) have put a great deal of hard work into making their music and it truly shows. And you’ll find it hard to laugh at such great songs despite funny names… but never fear, if you need a laugh just skip back to “Bitch School” over and over and over.