Spinal Tap, everyone's favorite fictional band from the '80s, is back with a "new" album today, aptly titled Back from the Dead. The two-CD set is a remastering of songs from the 1984 movie This Is Spinal Tap, along with one new cut (the title track), reworked versions of Sex Farm and Flower People and liner-note action figures of Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer). So with "England's loudest band" back on store shelves, we present this very important question: Is Tap the undisputed king of fictional bands in movie and TV history? Here are some of our other favorites:
STEVE SPEARS, Times staff writer
THE BLUES BROTHERS (The Blues Brothers, 1980): The late John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd started their Jake and Elwood bit on Saturday Night Live. The movie introduced Aretha Franklin, James Brown and Cab Calloway to new fans.
Reminds us of: Sam & Dave
Signature tune: Soul Man
Reminds us of: Bruce Springsteen
Signature tune: On the Dark Side
STILLWATER (Almost Famous, 2000): My Name is Earl's Jason Lee channels late '70s rockers (think Zeppelin with more laughs) in Cameron Crowe's semi-autobiographical film about his early days at Rolling Stone. The band's songs were written by Nancy Wilson of Heart (Crowe's wife).
Reminds us of: The Allman Brothers
Signature tune: Fever Dog
THE WONDERS (That Thing You Do, 1996): Written and directed by Tom Hanks, the Wonders are mop-topped teen stars on a 15-minute ride through fame. Fountains of Wayne bassist Adam Schlesinger wrote the hit.
Reminds us of: The Archies
Signature tune: That Thing You Do
THE SOGGY BOTTOM BOYS (O Brother, Where Art Thou?, 2000): Joel and Ethan Coen move Homer's Odyssey to Depression-era Mississippi. Yep, weird stuff. But the soundtrack sold 7 million copies. That's Dan Tyminski overdubbing George Clooney on vocals.
Reminds us of: The Stanley Brothers
Signature tune: I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow
Reminds us of: Wilson Pickett
Signature tune: Mustang Sally
THE SORELS (Streets of Fire, 1984): We could have picked Ellen Aim and the Attackers (with Diane Lane), but we liked the Sorels' tune better. Plus remember the shock when we discovered that all-black group's music was actually performed by the very white Dan Hartman.
Reminds us of: The Temptations
Signature: I Can Dream About You
THE RUTLES (The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash, 1978): The collaboration between members of Britain's Monty Python's Flying Circus and Saturday Night Live was the inspiration for This is Spinal Tap. It even includes a cameo by George Harrison.
Reminds us of: The Beatles, of course
Signature tune: Cheese and Onions
Also worth remembering: The Folksmen (A Mighty Wind); The Hong Kong Cavaliers (Buckaroo Bonzai Across the 8th Dimension); the Monkees (The Monkees); Wyld Stallyns (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure); Zack Attack (Saved by the Bell); Crucial Taunt (Wayne's World), Steel Dragon (Rock Star); the Lone Rangers (Airheads); Citizen Dick (Singles); NWH (Fear of a Black Hat).