“In ancient times,
Hundreds of years before the dawn of history
Lived a strange race of people, the Druids
No one knows who they were or what they were doing
But their legacy remains
Hewn into the living rock, of Stonehenge”
What can someone say about a rock and roll band that began life as The Thamesmen before rebranding as The Originals (then when there was another band called The Originals they changed their name to The New Originals for a bit, but that didn’t work)?
That was before evolving into the band that became vanguardians of Umlaut loving heavy metal. The English Hard Rock heroes Spinal Tap. And so we say… Tap into SteveForTheDeaf. How have this band never had a song posted here before? A fictional Heavy Metal band that becomes beloved by real metal fans and eventually an institution of the genre, This is literally what I’m all about.
Firstly they’re the only fictional band on this list I have seen live (twice). Secondly they’re not the only fictional (or mock) Heavy Metal band with a (real) fan base who I have seen live. Steel Panther are a confusing proposition. They’re real but they’re joking. But are they? In their early day they were called Metal Shop. It was just as ironic but not half as clever. The Darkness too. A real band. A comedy set up that makes you think they’re faking it. See them live. There’s no doubt they mean it.
Bad News on the other hand. Rik Mayall, Nigel Planer, Adrian Edmondson and Peter Richardson as Colin Grigsson, Den Denis, Vim Fuego and Spider (Eight Legs) Webb. Hilarious… But, and yet, hold up, I knew who they were before I saw The Comic Strip Presents Bad News and it’s sequel More Bad News. So the illusion is not quite so complete. They had some tunes too. Masterbike, Warriors Of Ghengis Khan, Bad Dreams. A funny two hours of TV comedy that spawned two albums. Bad News and Bootleg. Not to mention a semi hit single cover version of Bohemian Rhapsody that has to be heard to be believed (but unfortunately cannot be unheard) and Cashing In On Christmas (a Christmas single that reminds you these guys were once The Young Ones)…
But let’s get back, back to the Tap!
Spinal Tap did such a good job imitating bands in the heavy metal genre that Aerosmith walked out of the premier about the point in the movie where this song was played. They were in their Rock In A Hard Place phase and took the stage set gag personally. Judas Priest were so affronted they wanted to know who in their camp was leaking stories to screen writers. Lemmy from Motorhead’s take was of a different discomfort. He laughed so much he couldn’t catch his motor-breath.
I’ve had cause to drive past those ancient stones a few times in my life. Whenever I have, this song has sprung to mind.
“Stonehenge, where the demons dwell, where the banshee lives and they do live well”
It still makes me smirk. Even typing it just now. Chris Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer have funny bones. Everything they do is hilarious. The quiet moments especially. Their humour is all about leaving space. Under stating the joke. Like the sustain. Just listen to it. You would be able to hear it, if it were playing.
“And you my love, won’t you take my hand? We’ll go back in time to that mystic land, where the dew drops cry and the cats meow, I will take you there, I will show you how”
Their Break Like The Wind comeback in the 90’s was independent of the mock documentary (sorry Rockumentary) that made their name. It wouldn’t have worked without there being fundamentally memorable songs under the gags. The original tracks Big Bottom, Gimme Some Money, Hell Hole had a baying audience to see them live. Add Stinking Up The Great Outdoors, Bitch School and The Majesty Of Rock and you have a live set worthy of attendance.
Even the ones you’ve never heard are brilliant. Shark Sandwich, Saucy Jack. Intravenous De Milo. Their observation of rock and roll, of the tropes and of the reasons we love Ozzy, Maiden, Metallica and all the rest add a delightfully piercing and yet warm perspective. Sometimes too much perspective.