Tarantula (Sire)

By Bob Bahr

Do you like the Black Crowes? Their appropriation of classic rock stylings didn't trouble some listeners at all; in fact, their likeable rock grooves wormed their way into the hearts of millions.

Ride steals the sound and feel of their predecessors in much the same way. Tarantula is one of those albums where you have to fight yourself from hearing stolen licks and copped grooves. It spoils the record.

Some thefts are hard to get around. "Dead Man" sounds like "Sweet Home Alabama." "The Dawn Patrol" is "The Pusher," altered a bit. "Burnin'" certainly reminds me of "Castles Made of Sand." The influence of the Rolling Stones is rampant, and Beatlesque touches are everywhere. If you can let go of this, songs like "Sunshine/Nowhere to Run" are nice additions to the classic rock canon. "Deep Inside My Pocket" is produced by Mitch Easter and has his power pop fingerprints all over it. But isn't this the '90s? Why are bands retreading the past?

This is reputedly Ride's last album. Perhaps some members of the band are ready to move on and create an original sound. One person to keep an eye (and ear) on is Andy Bell, the group's guitarist. Backwards solos and organic noodlings from Bell create soundscapes worth exploring. And the band members clearly have a handle on how to create a polished, well-engineered production.

You know where you stand on these guys. You've heard Lenny Kravitz and the other thieves in the rock closet. Either you like 'em or you don't. Tarantula is a solid album made up of recycled parts, and thus a fine entry in this dead-end genre. Make of that what you will.