clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Big Ten Power Poll, Week Six: Spinal Tap Albums

You’ve read the best (Zuzu, BRT, Thump, GF3), now here’s the rest! In 1982, Marty DiBergi went on tour with one of England’s loudest bands, Spinal Tap. The resulting documentary stands the test of time as one of the finest pieces of journalism ever produced. Like all of you, I went into that documentary but a child. I emerged fully grown, aware of myself for the first time, and the power that I yield with my love torpedo.

In preparing this week’s Power Poll, I dived deeper than most are willing to go. I scoured my records and CDs, aiming to give you the same kind of incurable itch that I got so many years ago. I put this together on Penn State’s At Ease Weekend, which gave me a chance to really let my hair down.

Join me, because this Power Poll goes to eleven!

Ohio State (#1) - This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

(High: 1 Low: 2 First Place Votes: 11)

Who doesn’t love a greatest hits album? This Is Spinal Tap is the easiest to digest, most commercially successful album The Tap ever produced. No way you couldn’t enjoy being a fan of these safe choices, unless you’re James W Snyder. But the album isn’t perfect. Their Greatest Hits by The Eagles is perfect. It didn’t have “Stonehenge”, which starts off like first half OSU against Penn State then cuts off like GoForCoffee before storming back in all its obnoxiousness, also like GF3.

Penn State (#2) - Back From The Dead (2009)

(High: 1 Low: 4 FPV: 1)

Remember how commercially successful TIST was? Nothing like going back to that well to try to reenergize the wallets fans! Seriously, “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight”, “Sex Farm”, “Gimme Some Money”, they’re ALL here, just years behind the originals, and with a slightly different sound, but the same sense of in it for the moolah. “Stonehenge” is still ass, as was 4th and 5.

Michigan (#3) - Spinal Tap Sings “(Listen to the) Flower People” and Other Favourites (1967)

(High: 2 Low: 4)

This is the original, folks! Released over a half century ago, this album was a carbon copy of the more polished acts in Liverpool and other Ivy-type locales. Our favorite metal band had yet to figure out how metal they really were. “Sleepover” is juvenile drivel, only worth listening to for the audio homages heard in 1973’s “Sleepover II”, the song that still makes me retire to a quiet place and reminisce of my babysi...

Where was I? Uh, yeah, the other favourites were superficially about spreading happiness and joy, but in the late ‘60s, Tap was spreading cold sores.

Wisconsin (#4) - Break Like The Wind (1992)

(High: 3 Low: 4)

Spinal Tap tried something new in ‘92. A new sound for a new generation of rockers. “Pound My Ground” is the most instantly recognized track. A thumping, continuous assault, effectively lowering your defenses for the finesse. It never comes. I meant the finesse, not the song “It Never Comes”, that’s the sixth song on the album. Wisconsin was also trying something new around that time. It was called “football”. Over 25 years later, both Wisconsin and BLTW are going strong.

Iowa (#5) - Brainhammer (1970)

(High: 5 Low: 5)

It’s the lost album. The album that has always been there, and will always be there, and you don’t remember ever loving it, but damned if it doesn’t surprise you now and again. The longest album in Spinal Tap’s discography is also in a perpetual state of limbo. Neither old school nor modern. A bit of an Easter Egg for the hardcore fans, crushing a buckeye nut with a hammer produced the wailing/screaming sound heard at 55:24.

Northwestern (#6) - Tap Dancing (1976)

(High: 6 Low: 10)

Where to start? Is this a smart record that baffles with bad decisions? Maybe it is decisively bad, while smartly baffling. Or bad record, but smart? I’m baffled. I do know that “Purple Headed Monster” is one hell of a rocking jam, and Derek Smalls’ “Home by Eleven” is a lifeless bore. I guess the album is summed up by the vague “Our Mother (Notre Dame)”, four minutes in Latin [debate: Lyrics are repeated, but are they “We beat Our Mother” or “Our Mother beat us?] played in reverse over drummer Peter “James” Bond’s furious rhythms. This was the song Bond was playing in ‘77 when he spontaneously combusted on stage.

Michigan State (#7) - Nerve Damage (1971)

(High: 7 Low: 9)

Biggest hit was the title track, Nerve Damage. Nigel St. Hubbins claims the inspiration came from being struck by lightning as a child, numbing everything from the waist down. Only one B1G team knows how to harness the weather, and their gameplay can make anyone numb from the neck up.

Maryland (#8)- Celtic Blues (Single 1983)

(High: 6 Low: 9)

The only single I’ve chosen for this, because of what it means. Firstly, the lyrics are all about visuals: country hills, streets running with blood, stars at night. None of the images are original, but damned if they aren’t there. Secondly, the song is specifically about colors. In order, the colors are green, red, violet, brown, black, blue, orange, gray, and silver. Like a kid snuck into a body shop, tried a sample from each of the paint nozzles, then puked it all onto a football uniform and called it state flag pride. B Side was “Crabs”. Not the crustacean.

Indiana (#9) - None More Black (bootleg)

(High: 6 Low: 10)

I first heard NMB back in ‘99. I had downloaded Silent But Deadly on Napster and was looking for more Tap when this popped up. I had thought myself a B1G fan, even going to see the band play in Muskegon ‘98. How did I not know of NMB?! Well, that’s because NMB is not a real Spinal Tap album at all, it is Warrant playing “The Majesty of Rock”, “Bitch School”, and “No Place Like Nowhere”. Warrant sucks, and so does Indiana. See you Cherry Pie eating pricks on 10/20.

Purdue (#10) - Silent But Deadly (1969)

(High: 9 Low: 12)

This live album, recorded in a park on the world famous Rue la Fayette, Paris (better known these days as East Lafayette), introduced the world to the musical experimentation of Nigel Tufnel. Unfortunately, playing guitar with a baguette still sounds like ass. Shaking off the disappointing start, Nigel and the boys debuted the title track and “Breakfast of Evil” at that show, both of which charted in the UK. Purdue also had a rough start before bouncing back and defeating Boston College.

Minnesota (#11) - The Sun Never Sweats (1975)

(High: 8 Low: 12)

More than just a play on words, this album brings the unwanted enthusiasm you never knew you never wanted! The Sun Never Sweats, blah blah blah blah, The Sun Never Sweats! Holy crap, think of something else to sing about! No! Because The Sun Never Sweats!

My breaking point as a Spinal Tap fan will come the moment they cash in and press The Sun Never Sweats Again. I mean it. Please let this die. Stop rowing that boat.

Illinois (#12) - Heavy Metal Memories (1983)

(High: 10 Low: 12)

Recorded while on their comeback tour in support of Smell The Glove, Heavy Metal Memories is best forgotten. I’m sure everyone remembers when Nigel left the band. It was in the documentary! Anyway, Nigel left, but David wanted to push forward with his “concept album”. The concept was apparently making shit music with his shit girlfriend and pasting the band’s historical name on it. Recorded in Dobly at her demand, for what that’s worth.

Nebraska (#13) - Blood To Let (1972)

(High: 13 Low: 13 LPV: 0)

It’s red, get it? Look, mayyybe this was considered decent quality in 1972, but it sure as hell doesn’t hold up in 2018. “Frost Warning” was the only single released, and it was a miserable flop, especially considering Polymer Records put a full size advertisement on Page 2 of The Sun! Overhyped and underdeveloped, Spinal Tap has refused to play any songs from this album since 2001. Not completely irredeemable, in my opinion, as I do secretly enjoy “One Second Left” and “McCloskey’s Catch”, Tap’s ballad about the Aidromatic Sea (sic).

Rutgers (#14) - Shark Sandwich (1980)

(High: 14 Low: 14 LPV: All of ‘em)

Shit Sandwich.

Special thanks to PSU fan and otherwise decent human being pkloa for penning a power poll that delivers.