It was in 1979 that Spinal Tap emerged from music’s funnier side on ABC television’s sketch comedy pilot The T.V. Show, ripping ‘the Michael’ out of an industry that had during the 1970s had taken itself a little too seriously. The mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap, directed by once-actor, Rob Reiner made in 1984, first appeared on UK television in 1985. Having stayed up late to watch this compelling insight into the band, the following day I set about hunting down their album Smell the Glove, unaware of the joke that had been played. These were the days preceding anything like Google, only having at my disposal the microfiche in the local library. So having done my homework and located the soundtrack album, I realised my error. Two years before this epic mockumentary, 1983 had seen The Comic Strip create their own rock-music parody. Part of The Comic Strip Presents series, comics Ade Edmondson (portraying guitarist – Vim Fuego), Rik Mayall (bassist – Colin Grigson), Peter Richardson (drummer – Spider Webb), and Nigel Planer (bassist – Den Dennis) formed the heavy metal band Bad News, producing a new level of heavy-metal chaos.
Roll forward five years and after watching the second instalment in the Bad News series, More Bad News, I tracked down the LP simply titled Bad News. Clocking in at only six tracks, this was begging to see a longer form release, which was the case in 1989 when Rhino Music released their expanded version. Copies of the various issues of the album, be it on LP or CD are now fetching princely sums. Cherry Red has come forth and is releasing their own version, Every Mistake Imaginable – The Complete Frilly Pink Years 1987-1988 including both the original 6 tracks, along with the expanded content and the band’s Bootleg recordings, first issued in 1988. A 22-track double disc edition, that might once again hear the chant “Hey Hey Bad News”, is just what the nation has been waiting for, after years of taking itself too seriously. So roll on the joke, as we go with the “The four horsemen of the rock apocalypse/Leaders and saviours of the wild ride to oblivion and ecstasy.”
This album commences with an announcement from that memorable 1986 performance at the Monsters Of Rock Festival, Castle Donington, as Rik Mayall announces they will “free the universe with their own peculiar brand of heavy metal.” Imagine bottles filled with urine being hurdled stage-bound, as a pretty decent performance, echoing that of Status Quo is performed. Varying reports were made of the band’s appearance at the festival, although it would seem the joke was taken with good humour. Following their performance, backstage is Edmondson playing up to what he saw as a disaster, whilst Mayall responds. The two send expletives between one another, in something that might see itself played out in episodes of Bottom, eight to 10 years later. The start of this album is a good reflection of what you might expect and if you’re familiar with The Comic Strip, playful might be considered an under-exaggeration.
From Warriors Of Ghengis Khan, the band’s first single, through the Brian May produced Bohemian Rhapsody, a track they had apparently taken “three days to tune up,” a number which is nearly 13 minutes long. This includes the band banter, which is like a good wine and will improve on keeping. This makes this collection such a valuable resource, as you won’t be able to leave without smiling, with a warm feeling inside. If nothing else it features the late lamented Rik Mayall, in a performance you might find is the seed of his future success. With 2 performances of ‘Cashing In On Christmas’, both the 7″ version and the slightly longer ‘(Let’s Bank It Mix)’, in which some might hear a similarity with The Darkness, as they play. I wouldn’t be surprised if Justin Hawkins had got this on his listening agenda as an infant. Toward the end of the first disc is a track titled ‘Life With Brian’, written by Vim Fuego, Spider Webb, along with Brian May, and is what I would call a ram-shackled rock opus that simply has to be heard.
The second CD includes the band’s Bootleg recordings, an album first released in 1988. This rather than being filled with musical content could be categorised as spoken word, or perhaps just 51 minutes in the life of Bad News. This hears the band generally larking around, discussing payment to Spider’s local dealer and playing with the vigour of Motorhead, as they launch into nearly 19 minutes of ‘Masturbike’. This is a gem of an album, where I rediscovered my inner child. I laughed from start to finish, as it examines Every Mistake Imaginable through their Frilly Pink Years. Bad News, finally something to smile about