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As Spinal Tap returns, a look at the greatest mock bands

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

EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS (Eddie and the Cruisers, 1983): Michael Pare fronted these '60s rockers from Jersey, though John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band did the real work.

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

THE COMMITMENTS (The Commitments, 1991): One of few films where the actors really do the playing and singing. The Irish cast includes future members of the Corrs.

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).

As Spinal Tap returns, a look at the greatest mock bands 06/15/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 16, 2009 10:58am]

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