• Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

Derek Smalls – Harry Shearer Reprises the Role of Your Favorite Lead Bassist on Smalls Change!

As “Derek Smalls” in Spinal Tap, Harry Shearer left an impact on audiences back in the classic 1984 film. And now, in his 70s, Shearer has given audiences an unexpected surprise – a solo album in character as Smalls! Smalls Change is Shearer’s latest exploit in character as Derek Smalls, a concept/rock opera album of sorts dealing with the aging process.

I wasn’t expecting anything new Spinal Tap-related given the ages of the actors/band members (though we did get a new release of sorts back in 2009) though Shearer/Smalls has surprised audiences with this new release. It’s the first time we’ve gotten a “solo album” from a Spinal Tap member/actor. And Shearer’s brought some friends along for the ride, including (but not limited to) David Crosby, Donald Fagen, Peter Frampton, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, Taylor Hawkins, Chad Smith, Rick Wakeman, Dweezil Zappa, Joe Satriani, Steve Lukather, Phil X, Paul Shaffer, Jane Lynch, and Steve Vai!

I knew a Derek Smalls solo LP would be simultaneously epic and comical, and needless to say, I wasn’t wrong there. The album even employs orchestral backing for something that approaches the lunacy of what we saw him doing in This is Spinal Tap. What’s true of Spinal Tap is true here – the music is surprisingly solid, and on par with what you expect from a “professional” band (in the original film, the actors/musicians played all their own music, believe it or not). An ensemble cast of guest stars turns this into something special. It’s epic, but you’ll be laughing pretty hard too.



The tracks cover Smalls’ take on the aging process, with subjects like organ transplants, erectile dysfunction, medical procedures, hair loss, and everything in between. The sound on the album rocks hard and has its epic moments, but with song titles like “Openture,” “Butt Call,” “Gimme Some (More) Money,” and “She Puts the Bitch in Obituary,” you know that your favorite lead bassist isn’t taking things too seriously. And bless him for that.

The album doesn’t quite reach the levels of greatness of the classic 1984 This is Spinal Tap soundtrack or its early 90s successor, Break Like the Wind, but honestly, I’ll take this one over the most recent Spinal Tap release.

Smalls Change features Harry Shearer coming back to the role of Derek Smalls, and giving audiences an epic-yet-silly rock extravaganza the fans are sure to love. I don’t know that this one deserves “instant classic” status (it’s a little too long), but there are plenty of memorable moments sure to leave an impression. Experience the next chapter in the Spinal Tap story with the return of Derek Smalls!

Needless to say, a highly recommended release.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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