CliqueClack Flicks

The Spinal Tap influence

'This Is Spinal Tap' has influence far and wide in any concert film, rock musical or rock-tinged movie.

Well … of course you know what the number one rock ‘n’ roll flick is. After all, this is a week celebrating This Is Spinal Tap.

And while Tap may be the epitome of the genre, there are other films that definitely make the cut in my book. I want to mention a few of them here … and all have some sort of connection to Tap. In no particular order (it’s always a joy when I can use that non-sensical phrase from Steve Jones of The X Factor), they are:

  • Urgh! A Music War (1981): This is nothing less than an outstanding potpourri of rock, punk, new wave and reggae music with a sprinkling of more just to add to the flavor. Of note is a definitive version of The Cramps’ “Tear It Up” and one of the best recordings of “Driven To Tears” by The Police anywhere. Devo, Wall Of Voodoo, Klaus Nomi, Oingo Boingo, XTC, The Go-Gos, Gary Numan, OMD, The Surf Punks, X, Gang Of Four and more. I dare you to name a better line up of cutting edge bands in one film. The TIST Connection: The antics, the props, the spectacle.
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll High School (1979): This Joe Dante directed vehicle (with production by the master, Roger Corman) shows how to defy the system with the assistant of everyone’s — and I mean EVERYONE’S — favorite punks, The Ramones. Taking over the world (or … high school, in this case) was never better. The TIST Connection: Loud, proud, takes no prisoners.
  • Pink Floyd The Wall (1982): Roger Waters’ classic concept album put to film with Bob Geldof (The Boomtown Rats) playing the lead descending into a physical and social downward spiral while building “a wall” around himself. Akin to Tap’s “Stonehenge.” The TIST Connection: Concept piece. Remember “The Gospel According To Spinal Tap” … ??? Then there was talk of the Jack The Ripper story …
  • The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988): The second of a trilogy of documentaries by Penelope Spheeris, this one — about the L.A. metal scene in the latter half of the ’80s — features outstanding interviews with some of that decades heaviest hitters. Equally hilarious and sad throughout, it’s truly an amazing film to explore. Includes interviews with KISS, Aerosmith, Megadeth, Ozzy Osborne, Motorhead and Alice Cooper. The TIST Connection: What metal can do. Whether Spheeris saw TIST or not, there are just too many nods to McKean and Company, coincidental though they may be.
  • Stop Making Sense (1984): This is a brilliant offering of a straightforward concert accounting (filmed over the course of three days) containing a really a big suit and really excellent music. The TIST Connection: For me? The thrumbing bass beats and awe of “Big Bottom” is equally as mesmerizing as what David Byrne did on stage.
  • That Thing You Do! (1996): One catchy tune is all it takes. The popularity skyrockets, the heads get big … and then the fall. The TIST Connection: The ascent and the decline.
  • The Commitments (1991): This film is just about identical to That Thing You Do! but set in Dublin, Ireland and with outstanding soul influence, whether Ireland wants it or not. The TIST Connection: The descent, the bickering.
  • A Hard Day’s Night (1965): Excellent musical history lesson, fine example of what Beatlemania was all about. It was supposed to be somewhat of “strike while the iron’s hot” accounting of The Fab Four, but turned into a classic concert film. The TIST Connection: Mostly, the final scenes of Tap is where the similarities are here, the rabid popularity in Japan stands out in comparison. There is joyous abandon in both films as well.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975):  Two players in the game for me: Susan Sarandon and MeatloafThe TIST Connection: When you use the words “cult” and “classic” in proximity to each other, both TRHPS and Tap will both be in the same sentence.

The films noted above are nothing more than the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a master list of influence and influenced where Tap has left its mark. There are tons more: Madonna: Truth or Dare, American Graffiti, U2: Rattle and Hum, Purple Rain to name a very few. Watch any concert film or rock musical or rock-tinged movie and the Tap touch is there somewhere.

Photo Credit: MGM

Categories: Features, General, News

One Response to “The Spinal Tap influence”

September 14, 2012 at 4:24 AM

you forgot to mention “strange fruit ” do you know that film with billy connoly and timothy spall !! think thats his name .

Powered By OneLink