This Is Spinal TapIt’s an established fact that the core members of Spinal Tap (David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel, and Derek Smalls) are not fans of the 1984 film that bears their name, or of the film’s director, Marty DiBergi. This first became apparent on the commentary track for the DVD release of the film, which is nearly as funny as the film itself. There, Tap (they hate being called Tap) takes many people to task, including former manager Ian Faith, Polymer records publicist Bobbi Flekman, midwest promo man Artie Fufkin, and former record company president Denis Eton-Hogg, who is said to now be running a summer camp for pale young men. Keyboard player Viv Savage and drummer Mick Shrimpton are not spared. There is much discussion about whether these, and other people who appeared in the original film, are alive or dead. The most intense vitriol, however, is reserved for DiBergi, and his fake beard, not to mention his obviously changed name.

Now, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of This Is Spinal Tap, the film has been released for the first time on Blu-ray. The package not only includes all of the extra features that were on the DVD version, but there’s a second disc of brand new bonus features, including Spinal Tap’s “Stonehenge” performance at the 2007 Live Earth Festival, and a National Geographic Stonehenge interview with Nigel Tufnel. Finally, the great English band gets a full chance to have their say about that exploitative film, and to demonstrate that they are indeed a great band, and not the bumbling idiots that the bastard DiBergi portrayed them as.

There’s a reason why This Is Spinal Tap is a favorite movie among musicians. The film hits very close to home. To one degree or another, we are all Spinal Tap. Every tour involves some unbearable, cringeworthy moments, along with some triumphant ones. It’s when you get to the point that the latter outweigh the former that you know that you’ve made it.

I’d be the last person to defend the rat Marty DiBergi and his fake beard (and name), but he did manage to cobble together an entertaining film that is funny, as long as the laughter isn’t directed at you. Poor Spinal Tap. Creators of such classics as Intravenus DeMilo, Shark Sandwich, Listen to the Flower People, and of course Smell the Glove, they managed to survive the death of drummer John “Stumpy” Pepys in a gardening accident. Drummer Eric “Stumpy Joe” Childs choked on someone else’s vomit, and drummer Peter “James” Bond simply exploded while playing a blues/jazz, or jazz/blues, festival at the Isle of Lucy, leaving behind only a green globule, more like a stain really. Add the questionable management of the regrettable Ian Faith, his successor the unbearable Jeanine Pettibone, and the lack of support from Polymer Records, and what’s a band to do?

You know this film. If you feel the need to see it in the beautiful Blu-ray format, by all means get yourself a copy. But please, please, do not fail to watch the commentary from the band, or the one hour-plus of outtakes that serve to flesh out the original film. Did you know that Tommy Pischedda the limo driver originally played a much bigger role in the film? Do you know where Nigel went and what he did when he left the band in California? Are you interested in what Nigel and David discussed in the hot tub late at night? Would you like to see a performance by Ricky, who took Nigel’s place for one show after he quit the band? And what about those cold sores? It’s all there and much, much more. Did I mention the late-night TV commercial that Tap did for “Heavy Metal Memories,” or their appearance on Joe Franklin’s “Memory Lane”?

I could go on and on, but I’ll end with this. Derek Smalls’ pod problems and the miniature Stonehenge would have put an end to most bands, yet here they are, 25 years after DiBergi’s fiasco (not to mention, again, his fake beard), and more than 40 years after they first got together, finally getting the respect that they deserve. Screw you Marty!

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About the Author

Ken Shane

Ken Shane lives in Narragansett, R.I. He is a freelance writer and far and away the oldest Popdose writer. In fact, he may be the oldest writer, period. He wants you to know that he generally does not share his colleagues' love for the music of the '80s, and he does not forgive them for loving it. (Ken passed away in November 2022. R.I.P. —Ed.)

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