Spider-Man: Rock Reflections of a Superhero – Various Artists

This is certainly an odd recommendation, not just because of what this album is, but because not all of the album is good. While it’s got some fantastic tracks I’ll take with me, some of the album is baffling! I laughed out loud listening to “Gwendolyn”, which opens with a piano playing the tonic chord repeatedly to emphasize the key, only to immediately modulate up a whole step when the vocals come in. Of course, Stan Lee’s narration will send chills up your spine; he’s a fantastic storyteller and a legendary writer, and this is a good script. Let me quote the first narration: “Surely, his bizarre and unique position of dual identity brings on its own, unexpected traumas. What is Spider-Man thinking?” The album standout is its first track, “High Wire”, a fast, groovy 70’s rock track full of bright, joyous harmony; its Broadway sensibilities and attention-grabbing guitar riffs will put a smile on your face and a tap in your toes. (Broadway sensibilities means that a fast song is major almost all the way through except for when it uses the VIb-VIIb-I progression.) “Peter Stays And Spiderman Goes” is also quite good, boasting engaging acoustic rhythms, interesting (reversed?) backwards guitar, evocative minor harmony, cool violins, and surprisingly good lyrics that aren’t afraid to double down on their wacky premise. “Dr. Octopus Part 1” is a fantastically campy piano/synth jam that just makes you want to creep about the city while the moon is out. There’s a satisfying tragic catharsis to the album’s ending, with Stan Lee’s narration creating genuine tension leading into the wistful forward motion of “Time Will Show Me The Way”.

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