With one simple phrase, Rob Reiner’s Spinal Tap changed the face of rock music forever. The words “These go to eleven” resound in every guitarist’s head as they reach for the volume control to turn it up that extra step. The introduction of the 11th setting on the Marshall JCM 900 amplifier allowed guitarists to play louder, harder and… wait.
Sorry… because… I thought… was it…didn’t they… No, it wasn’t and they didn’t. Just like the 11th setting on a marshal amp, Spinal Tap has its long, lady lapping, Gene Simmons tongue placed firmly in its cheek. It wasn’t real but it did change the face of rock music forever.
The fact that some people thought that “The Tap” were a real band goes to show the film’s power. There were popular bands who actually acted like that, prancing around a prop-cluttered stage singing songs about pagan rituals, all the time maintaining a straight face and with their tongues, far from in their cheeks, flapping wildly about their faces. What the film did was to make this sort of posturing embarrassing, and rightly so.
Unfortunately, not all of the lessons so well taught in Spinal Tap are universally adhered to. Theatrical sets, egoism and auto-erotic fret marching do still occur.
In 1997 U2 became stuck in their giant lemon during a shocking piece of rock shamelessness strangely similar to Spinal Tap’s on stage womb episode. More fool U2 in general, but more fool them especially for not taking heed of Spinal Tap’s razor sharp critique.