Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spinal Tap, The Early Years

Lots of Spinal Tap this week. In conjunction with the re-release of This is Spinal Tap on Blu-Ray, the band made an appearance on Jimmy Fallon's show on Monday and on The Daily Show last night. Tap can always be counted on to go all out live. "Sex Farm" and "Gimme Some Money" brought down the house. Plus, I learned that Nigel Tufnel raises miniature horses for breeding, racing and eating. Nigel has never looked more like Jeff Beck than he does now.

The 1984 movie of the group's illustrious career gave the world its first deep look into the legendary combo. Yet, how many among you know of an earlier project involving two of the key members of Tap? Not many, I bet.

Behind the real band are the real people who play them. Christopher Guest is Nigel, Michael McKean is David St. Hubbins and Harry Shearer is Derek Smalls. McKean played Lenny and, alongside David L. Lander's Squiggy, formed the most underrated comedy twosome in sitcom history. They made Laverne and Shirley watchable, no easy task.
The show was big enough that the pair were able to con Casablanca Records into giving them a record deal and, in 1979, came Lenny & The Squigtones. It is an album that will cause Tourette's-like howling and chronic knee-slapping. The hysterical patter between songs is hard to top, but the songs themselves are what you pay for and they are the real deal, both laugh- and music-wise. And, lo and behold, there's "Nigel Tufnel" credited on guitar.

You must hear this record. You'll never be the same after listening to "Squiggy's Wedding Day" and "Babyland," a poem that Mrs. Squigman recited to the young Squig, will leave you in a puddle of laughter.

So, go get it. Check YouTube under "Lenny and The Squigtones." It's all there.

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