The first CD I ever picked out in a store, Music From and Inspired by Spider-Man doesn’t seem like it would be the greatest introductory piece into the world of music, until you realize that underneath the comic book exterior is a highly enjoyable glimpse into the Alt-Rock musical landscape of the early ’00s. Indeed, the majority of the songs on the album seem to have nothing to do with the movie or Spider-Man in general whatsoever. The soundtrack goes from the old-school Spider-Man theme song from the ’60s into “Hero” from Chad Kroeger (which, at the very least was written for the movie) to a collection of great songs from badass bands like The Strokes and The Hives presenting great music with no strings (or webbing) attached. As we listened to it, my cousin Brett Fox remarked “It would be like if somebody made a Star Wars soundtrack with the main theme from Star Wars as the first track and then a collection of the greatest hits from the ’70s filling up the rest of the album.” True enough.
Granted, not every song is a winner. “Bug Bytes” from Alien Ant Farm and “I-IV-V” from Injected are skippable at best, but where the album really slows is when it’s actually doing what it’s supposed to: playing music from the movie. “Main Titles” are fine enough but hardly the most memorable movie theme, the overlong (and over-dramatic) “Farewell” is way too much of a snooze-fest to truly enjoy, and even Tom Morello himself couldn’t make that Macy Gray track presentable. The rest of the album’s 14 tracks are real keepers, though, and deliver an intriguing snapshot of where Rock n’ Roll was a decade-and-a-half ago. Also, if you’re going to have a real band cover that classic Spider-Man theme, who better than Aerosmith (not that anyone else would’ve accepted)? Bonus points for letting Joe Perry produce an extra minute of stone-cold riffing after the fade out.