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In 1984, commercial director Marty DiBergi took a film crew and followed the ill-fated “Smell the Glove” tour by English heavy metal act Spinal Tap. The resulting film went on to become a classic for its depiction of rock and roll excess — and for DiBergi’s unflinching voyeur’s gaze into the decaying emotional state of a band struggling with its own success (or lack thereof).
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of This Is Spinal Tap, we’ve taken a look back at the history of the seminal metal outfit, and revisited some of the very best rock songs the world has ever known.
“Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight”
What many consider to be Tap’s signature tune arrived on the 1974 album Intravenus de Milo. While the full-throated howl of singer David St. Hubbins takes center stage, it’s the lead guitar work by Nigel Tufnel that gives the song its propulsive, party-anthem energy. As for the Lego video … well, that’s just for fun.
From Brainhammer (1970), this classic Tap tune has both Hubbins and Tufnel joining bassist Derek Smalls on bass guitars of their own. The result is a song that pairs the free-love idealism of the ’60s with the 1970s hedonism that was just around the corner.
“Gimme Some Money”
Before they formed Spinal Tap, Hubbins and Tufnel played together in bands like The Originals and The New Originals. They later formed The Thamesmen, and appeared on the U.K. show Pop, Look & Listen to perform this upbeat number.
“(Listen to the) Flower People”
Rechristened again — this time, as Spinal Tap — the band first found wide success with this best-selling 1967 single. During the ensuing U.S. tour, Tap recorded a classic appearance on Jamboree Bop: the moment when the world first witnessed Tufnel’s profound skills as a lead guitarist.
In 1975, the band released the sprawling concept album The Sun Never Sweats. Alongside the title track and lesser-known songs like “The Princess and the Unicorn,” the band explored its mystic side in “Stonehenge.” The song became a concert staple, with the band returning to its iconic stage production for years to come.
“Christmas With the Devil”
While it was first released only as a limited-edition promotional single, “Devil” is the band at its very best. Raucous, provocative, and daring in every possible way, it is undeniably Tap.
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