Spinal Tap – The Majesty of Rock


The legend that is ‘This is Spinal Tap‘ marks it’s 30th anniversary this year, and without doubt there won’t be a heavy metal fan in the land who won’t have come across that film, or the music that soundtracked it. It inspired a generation of rockers, be it in stadiums or in bedrooms, to defy the limits of their Marshall stacks or their tiny amps to turn it up to 11 every time they played. Nobody lampooned the excess and the controversy courted by the likes of Aerosmith, Def Leppard and the other big rock bands of the day quite like Messrs Shearer, Guest and McKean.

But as my brother pointed out recently, more people needed to hear this song. And see its video. I am no stranger to the ‘Tap, but I can never recall anyone mentioning ‘The Majesty of Rock’ in the same breath as ‘Big Bottom’, ‘Stonehenge’ or even ‘Lick My Love Pump’. Released in 1992, as thrash metal and heavy metal almost drowned under the wave of grunge that surged into public consciousness, ‘Break Like the Wind‘ would certainly be lapped up by fond fans of the film and of the band that superseded fiction. But it would never reach the heights of its successful predecessor, the soundtrack to the original movie. Not that chart success mattered – it’s creators, reprising their roles as David St Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel and Derek Smalls, had birthed a legend that would go on to outlast many of the acts it ridiculed, a joke that would seemingly never get old, being that classic rock and heavy metal has hardly changed since ‘Black Sabbath‘ was released, albeit with far fewer wildmen to emerge in recent years to play the stereotype.

Back on topic though, ‘The Majesty of Rock’ is such a supreme track that really feels at its best when combined with its accompanying video. Ridiculous outfits (Tufnel’s spiderweb spandex in particular is just incredible), digitally imposed images of the Queen bopping her head and legends of pop and rock likes Janis Joplin and Roy Orbison ‘jamming’ with the band, massive speaker stacks atop a cliff, a red hot solo, huge gurning mugshots and lines such as ‘The more it stays the same/the less it changes!‘, you’d have to be devoid of wit and humour to at least not raise a smile to this, and indeed you’ll only need to watch/listen to it once for it to dig a wormhole into your brain. It’s daft, over the top, and a glorious paean to rock’s very character, and its excessive quirks. So turn it up (to 11 of course), and do nothing for the next four minutes but rock out, dance like Tufnel and worship the true glory of this song.

Peter Clegg

Previous posts in our Underrated series can be found here