Hold Me Up

Goo Goo Dolls

Metal Blade Records, 1990


REVIEW BY: George Agnos


I first heard of the currently hot band called The Goo Goo Dolls from the songs off this 1990 release, Hold Me Up. If you like this band because of their power ballad hits like "Iris," you will find this album quite a disappointment. The only ballad is the last song "Two Days In February" and even that seems like an afterthought. Hardly a power ballad, it is a low-key acoustic number that was recorded outdoors, just a nice song with no hit potential.

However if you like a good dose of scruffy punk-pop, then Hold Me Up delivers with lots of energy and hooks. The knock on them in this early part of their career was that they were The Replacements-lite. Do I agree with statement? Well, yes and no. I say that because the Goo Goo Dolls have two distinct singer/songwriters, and it is only one of them that tries to write like former Replacements leader Paul Westerberg.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Guitarist Johnny Rzeznik is the one who gets the singles and he is the one that sounds like Westerberg. The first single "There You Are" sounds a little too much like an okay Replacements song, and the same goes for the slower, edgier number "You Know What I Mean". However, I think the rocker "Just The Way You Are" (not the Billy Joel song) is about as good as almost any Replacements songs and Rzeznik portrays the endearing loser to a tee.

The other singer is bassist Robby Takac. He has a high-pitched, screetchy voice. His songs on Hold Me Up tend to be faster and punkier than Rzeznik's. While all of Takac's songs have great hooks complimented by his throbbing bass, there tends to be a sameness to his material. At least, Rzeznik's songs have more of a range to them. The one exception is "Out Of The Red" which is the hardest rocker on the album and the closest to punk in its pure form. This song is simply dynamite.

The Goo Goo Dolls do show some orginality in their cover tunes. They speed up The Plimsouls' "Million Miles Away" crushing the original like a grape, and I like the original. And in what has to be the most creative move of the album, they use a lounge singer named Lance Diamond to sing their punky cover of Prince's "Never Take The Place Of Your Man." This is quite hilarious and I wish the band had taken more chances like this on the rest of the album.

Rzeznik's guitar solos are short but effective. The band plays fast and furious without getting too sloppy. The drummer, George Tutuska, is not flashy but he gets the job done. Most of the songs are catchy and have a ragged charm to them. It's just that the band could use a little more inspiration. The potential was there in 1990 and I am not surprised that they have broken through to stardom. For newer Goo Goo Dolls fans, Hold Me Up is worth investigating as long as you are not looking for ballads.

Rating: B-

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© 1999 George Agnos and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Metal Blade Records, and is used for informational purposes only.