Directed by Rob Reiner - best known as Meathead from All in the Family - the film follows the mishaps of an outfit of aging rockers dubbed Spinal Tap as they tour and promote their album Smell the Glove. The group is not only comically inept but absurdly pretentious, with delusions of grandeur far exceeding their actual talent. This is actually the second appearance of the band, the first having been in 1979 on a sketch comedy pilot titled The T.V. Show. The film is a double parody, poking fun not only at rock bands but also at documentaries and, most especially, "rockumenteries." The humor, however, is lost on a good part of the audience. Despite the credits clearly stating that the band is fictional, as well as cameos from well-known actors Billy Crystal and Patrick Macnee, many moviegoers believe it's about a real band. The confusion is encouraged by the performances of Spinal Tap actors Michael McKean, Harry Shearer, and Christopher Guest, who all manage to maintain a straight-faced believability throughout the story, even during the movie's most absurd moments. The misunderstanding may hurt sales and delay the film's eventual cult status, as many are left wondering why a movie would be made about a band that no one has heard of. Many of the day's real musicians get the joke but find it painfully close to reality. U2's The Edge "weeps" in recognition of what he sees. Tom Waits sheds tears as well because of the movie's "realism." Ozzy Osbourne, meanwhile, is among those confused. He believes Spinal Tap is a real band, noting that they "seemed quite tame compared to what we [Black Sabbath] were up to." The film is written by Rob Reiner, but so much of its content has been improvised by Spinal Tap "members" McKean, Shearer, and Guest that they are all also given writing credits. In a case of life imitating art imitating life, the band ends up reuniting in 1992 on an album titled Break Like the Wind. Several drummers try out for the band, including the legendary Mick Fleetwood, who does so in a fireproof suit. Footage from one of their 1992 shows makes up the bulk of the material on the 1994 film The Return of Spinal Tap. There will be years and years of songs and public appearances, as well as a feud culminating with a tense public showdown with Metallica, who "clearly" stole the all-black-album-cover idea from Tap's Smell the Glove.
Article from Songfacts