Though the Ventures were far less prolific after the original lineup underwent major changes in the early '80s, they continued to tour and record occasionally in the decades that followed. Original members Don Wilson and Bob Bogle eventually brought a new cast together for 1997's Wild Again. The follow-up to that set, New Depths, made further attempts to update their sound for the year 1998 and beyond (hence "Web Surfin'" and "Wipeout 2017"). Wilson and Bogle are joined by a host of later additions and guests, most notable of which is guitarist Duane Eddy. The 20 cuts cover a lot of familiar territory, reworking the Shirelles' hit "Stop the Music" and Booker T. & the MG's' "Time Is Tight" along with "Peter Gunn," "Cry for a Shadow," and "I Fought the Law." The weakest material on New Depths lacks strong musical commitment: a diluted mix of surf, rock, blues, and country pervades on songs like "Hideaway" and "Blue Dawn." Elsewhere, surf classics like "Peter Gunn" and "Wipeout" are dogged by empty guitar showmanship. The group even take a back-to-back stab at both the Beverly Hills Cop and Miami Vice theme songs ("Axel F/Miami Vice Theme"). Besides being an odd choice for a cover, its jaunty synthesizers and ricocheting programmed beats seem lifeless. The one notable surprise comes when the group is joined by Japan's Rice Girls on a spirited reading of "Kanari Kiteru Koi." Nearly 40 years after they began their career, the Ventures were still capable of striking a high note when sticking to their more familiar sound. Songs like "Hurricane," "Banzai Pipeline," and "Trailblazer" all display the graceful, reverb-loaded surf guitar the group is best known and loved for. Yet even this style is better served by the EMI best-of, Walk Don't Run.
AllMusic Review by Nathan Bush
feat: The Rice Girls