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Napster, meet Spinal Tap

Parody rock artists take their show online

In the computer industry, as in show business, success breeds imitation.

So it's no surprise that following the remarkable popularity of Napster, there comes Tapster, the new music service and brainchild of heavy metal rockers Spinal Tap.

The Tapster launch kicks off a publicity campaign for the 12 September theatrical re-release of the 1984 "mockumentary," This Is Spinal Tap.

The Web site offers music, Spinal Tap merchandise, and a short video clip of the band. Members address the Napster controversy anonymously in silhouette, ostensibly to protect themselves from legal entanglements.

"Machines will eventually take over the world," says the darkly lit guitarist David St. Hubbins (actor Michael McKean). "I think we can all agree with that."

"We're just trying to make friends with the machines," insists bassist Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer).

Tapster's pared-down, one-click interface greatly simplifies traditional MP3 swapping.

Search for a Spinal Tap song, and you quickly find one - the only one available. The band's latest release, "Back From the Dead," is available exclusively on the Tapster Web site.

"Napster's a bit complicated, really, what with all of the songs available," argues the band's Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest). "One of the brilliant things about Tapster is that there's only one song to choose from."

Sadly, the new track is no "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" or "Stonehenge." And frankly it's not even as good as Tap filler such as "Gimme Some Money," "Sex Farm," or underdeveloped '60s fare such as "Cups and Cakes."

But the release of the song, and the new service, is likely to prove popular with die-hard Spinal Tap fans. The band continues to exploit new media, even in the face of critical and commercial failure. And it sounds just as loud as ever. Check it out at http://www.tapster.com.

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