In 2009, when Back from the Dead was released, it was impossible for any listener to not be in on Spinal Tap's joke, so it's fitting that this is their first release to play as pure comedy, an album that doesn't even attempt to pass itself off as a rock record. The concept is this: a reunited Tap -- hence the name Back from the Dead -- celebrates the 25th Anniversary of This Is Spinal Tap by launching an unplugged (and "unwigged," meaning Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer do not don the hairdos of Nigel Tufnel, David St. Hubbins, and Derek Smalls) tour, releasing the movie on BluRay and revisiting their old songs in the studio, adding five new songs, and recording "Jazz Oddyssey" for the first time, splitting it into thirds and scattering it throughout the album. "Sex Farm" is given a funky revamp, and "(Listen to The) Flower People" now sounds like Ziggy Marley, but those are the exceptions to the rule: the rest are straightforward remakes of the original recordings, right down to how "Gimme Some Money" has a Liverpool swing and how "Big Bottom" is driven by a farting synth bass riff. The only difference is, the production is clean and pristine, the band is precise and punchy, laying bare the joke, for better or worse. Some listeners may find this approach riotous, since the humor is pushed right toward the front, while many may miss how their original recordings blurred the lines between real rock and fantasy. This hurts Back from the Dead most on the remakes, all of which pale next to the originals, but the surprising things about the album is that all the new songs are top-notch, eclipsing the often forced Break Like the Wind, and striking the right balance between parody and real rock & roll. They're the reason to hear Back from the Dead, which otherwise is just a tad too satisfied with its own humor for its own good.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine