Beyond the current tour, Spinal Tap are releasing a new double album appropriately titled Back From The Dead on June 16, which will include 19 songs, many of which are re-recorded classics and six of which are new recordings, including “Celtics Blues,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll Nightmare,” “Back From The Dead,” “Warmer Than Hell,” and no less than three “Jazz Oddyssey” cuts. “Short And Sweet” will reportedly clock in at seven minutes. “Sex Farm” is getting a funk facelift, while “Listen To The Flower People” will be jammin’, mon.
The package will also include a DVD, action figures, and a “proportionally sized Stonehenge.” The album includes guest appearances from Phil Collen, Keith Emerson, John Mayer and Steve Vai. As if that wasn’t enough, fans can go to spinaltap.com for a free download of the previously unreleased “Saucy Jack,” written by Hubbins for his unfinished musical about Jack The Ripper. And an 11-inch, limited edition vinyl version of the album will also be available.
“It’s a necessary purchase,” emphasizes McKean of Back From The Dead. “Don’t be a jabbernowl, don’t be a mooncalf, just buy the damn thing. Reggae ‘Flower People’? I’m there! ‘(Funky) Sex Farm’? I’m all over that! ‘Warmer Than Hell’? Catch me not saving the damn planet!”
After This Is Spinal Tap came out, a strong and reliable ensemble of actors was built up through the casts of several of Guest’s films over the years. One of the alleged reasons that the folk satire A Mighty Wind happened was that many members of the cast are capable musicians. But that is not how the comedic trio originally united.
“I first met Chris Guest outside a classroom at NYU,” recalls McKean. “He was carrying a guitar case and I demanded to see inside. He showed me his, and later that week, I showed him mine. We began writing songs about a year later. Harry was a member of a satirical group called The Credibility Gap which took me on in 1970. We’ve been writing songs ever since. But all three of us have been primarily involved as co-comedians, if there is such a word.”
When McKean, Shears, and Guest originally formed Spinal Tap in the early ‘80s, they played around L.A. as a real band. Many people couldn’t tell the difference. “The first time we played in the L.A. area was with a band called Killer Pussy,” says McKean in earnest. “We also played at the old Gazzari’s club on the Strip that is now called the Key Club. It was a pay-to-play kind of gig.”
He says the only memorable moment from that whole period was when they “actually played on a bill with Iron Butterfly, and they said they would go on first and play their short set because their bass player had a bad toothache. Their short set was 90 minutes. Our feeling was sort of ‘Inna-gotta-get-outa-here,’ but we stuck around and played midnight-ish.”
Spinal Tap re-emerges in a big way every decade. In 1991 they reunited for the Break Like The Wind album and tour—armed with a host of celebrity guests that included Cher, Joe Satriani, and Slash—and appeared on The Simpsons and played the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992. They came back yet again in 2001 to tour, do a Behind The Music special, and unleash action figures. They even played Carnegie Hall.