Top 11 Spinal Tap Songs
While other bands have always been limited by turning it up to a mere 10, that was never enough for Spinal Tap. Featuring Christopher Guest (as Nigel Tufnel), Michael McKean (David St. Hubbins) and Harry Shearer (Derek Smalls), this fictional heavy-metal group remains the very portrait of hilarious rock excess. In keeping, we wouldn’t dare stop at 10 when counting down their best moments. Instead, Ultimate Classic Rock offers a list of the Top 11 Spinal Tap Songs.
This one goes to 11 … as well it should, since “Hell Hole” not only marked Spinal Tap’s commercial rebirth, but also their introduction to the still-teething MTV generation. They took great advantage of the era’s latest special effects, too, creating a groundbreaking, high-concept music video.
‘Christmas with the Devil’
Spinal Tap have never been scared of asking the difficult questions (e.g. “What’s wrong with being sexy?”). In keeping, this festive little single ponders the possibilities (and consequences) of spending the Yuletide season with Beelzebub.
One of Spinal Tap’s most mystical (and mystifying) works, this first appeared on Nigel Tufnel’s solo album before being reworked by the whole band for 1992’s Break Like the Wind. Said to be inspired by Nigel’s travels across the Moroccan desert (or was that Led Zeppelin‘s?), the cinematic song features a trademark sitar solo.
‘Rock ‘n Roll Creation’
An oft-misunderstood track, “Rock ‘n Roll Creation” was recorded at a time when punk rock forced the members of Spinal Tap to question their own existence – and, thus, God’s. There were some critics who famously asked whether perhaps the Lord couldn’t have rested on the day he made Spinal Tap. But the group always had their true believers — the fans.
During Spinal Tap’s self-imposed hiatus to recover from 1983’s arduous Smell the Glove tour, Derek Smalls retreated to his Surrey estate and indulged in his life’s other passion, championship dog breeding. Smalls’ experiences helped inspire Break Like the Wind’s first single “Bitch School,” which strangely rubbed a lot of feminist groups the wrong way.
‘Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight’
With so many good times that it required two evenings to complete the title, this perennial concert opener is arguably Spinal Tap’s best-known party-time rocker. Yet, even as it worked up audiences to a froth, critics of the day accused Spinal Tap of “treading water in a sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry.” Just why remains a mystery to us.
‘The Majesty of Rock’
Having been so rudely denied a well-deserved headline slot at 1985’s historic Live Aid concerts, Spinal Tap contributed a song so grand, so inspirational, so late (seven years!) and yet so satisfying, that the world’s starving masses got their fill of rock. Rocks have a lot of protein, you know?
‘(Listen to the) Flower People’
Other songs from Spinal Tap’s youth, such as the adorably quaint “Cups and Cakes” and even the ever-topical “Gimme Some Money” remain children of the ‘60s, but the universal message of their enormous-selling single, “(Listen to the) Flower People” is still as fresh as the day it was released. Fresh as a daisy, come to think of it.
A precursor to the sophisticated view of sex Tap would revisit, again and again, during the Smell the Glove sessions, “Sex Farm” (a.k.a. “Sex Farm Woman”) became the biggest hit from their career-reviving Shark Sandwich project. It made the Top 20 in Europe, and the Top 5 in Japan, but somehow missed the charts entirely in America – save for a few rural areas, we’re told.
It’s fair to say that with the legendary “Big Bottom,” Spinal Tap redefined the use of bass in hard rock and metal. No one’s had the gumption to duplicate the innovative, triple-instrument assault found on 1970’s pivotal Brainhammer album. “Big Bottom” is also one of Spinal Tap’s most frequently covered classics, with the most notable tribute arguably coming by way of Soundgarden.
Spinal Tap nearly sank their own career with 1975’s overly ambitious concept album, The Sun Never Sweats, which was pilloried by punks as proof that the band had become dinosaurs from a bygone rock era. But Spinal Tap’s suffering (and their accountants’) would not be in vain, because the album also spawned one of their most popular, ornate and majestic anthems in the historically relevant “Stonehenge.”