DEREK SMALLS

"Smalls Change: Meditations on Ageing" (BMG; 2018)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Spinal Tap, the legendary band that never was but managed to get a movie made about them back in the 80s. That movie was called "This Is Spinal Tap.". The movie started Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Harry Sheraer and Rob Reiner (who also directed). The film is about a fictional heavy metal band that shit goes wrong for from the beginning and gets worse from there. Go watch that shit; it is brilliant. Spinal Tap did a couple of recordings (see our reviews here) and tours and remain to this day, the stuff of legend.

"Smalls Change" is a release by Derek Smalls (aka Harry Shearer), the bassist for Spinal Tap. Without knowing anything about this recording, I just had to fucking check it out. After the first spin, I figured this was not only a continuation of the Spinal Tap joke, but a serious recording. This is some funny shit. just look at the tracklist and who see who else played on this record. (I do not normally put the track list on reviews, but sometimes that's the cherry on the cake.) Here goes:

"Rock and Roll Transplant" with Steve Lukather, Jim Keltner and Chad Smith
"Butt Call" with Phil X & Taylor Hawkins
"Small Change" Judith Owen, Danny Kortchmar and Russ Kunkel
"Memo to Willie" with Donald Fagen, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter, Larry Carlton & The Snarky Puppy Horns
"It Donít Get Old" with Waddy Wachtel
"Completer Faith"
"Faith No More"
"Gimme Some (More) Money" with Paul Shaffer, Waddy Wachtel & David Crosby
"MRI" with Dweezil Zappa
"Hell Toupee"
"Gumminí The Gash: with Steve Vai, Todd Sucheeman & Jane Lynch
"She Put The Bitch In Obituary" with Richard Thompson, Joe Satriani & Jane Lynch
"When Men Did Rock" with Michael League, Joe Satriani and Rick Wakeman

Harry Shearer is a comedy and musical powerhouse and "Smalls Change" is a Who's Who of guest celebrities. And, as I said earlier, this recording is not just a joke, but a solid rock'n'roll performance with some very interesting (and, yes, funny) ideas.

If you are fan of the movie "This Is Spinal Tap," or the band's music, you will get what this recording is trying to do: Entertain us. Derek Smalls may be a below-average bassist (or even below average) and his singing style might be a little lower. But it doesn't matter here. I loved this entire project.

By the way, our esteemed editor R. Scott Bolton and I saw Spinal Tap in concert in Los Angeles and that was a memorable concert to say the least.


For more information, check out https://www.dereksmalls.com/.  

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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