Ego, Opinion, Art & Commerce

Goo Goo Dolls

Warner Brothers, 2001

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


In a somewhat defensive move, this Goo Goo Dolls collection ruthlessly excises the huge acoustic rock hits that brought the band massive success. Nowhere on here will you find "Name," "Iris," "Black Balloon" or "Shine." Of course, since those hits brought this band widespread success, this compilation is sequenced in reverse order, starting with album cuts from Dizzy Up The Girl and working all the way back to the band's eponymous debut in 1987.

For those casual fans who came around when "Iris" was all over the radio, this collection will come as a surprise. For those who enjoyed the other non-hit alt rock songs from those two hit albums or who knew about the band from way back when, this collection is welcome, rounding up highlights from all six of the band's albums to this point, including a song apiece from my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Goo Goo Dolls and Jed.

It also throws the success of those other hits into some relief, since this was a band that paid its dues, honed its songwriting and always had that melodic side complementing the harder alt rock. Superstar Car Wash from 1993 showed a band on the verge, with all the elements right there just this side of cohering into a good album, and the best song from it ("We Are The Normal") remains intriguing, its furious acoustic strum, vocal harmonies and strong melody making it a great lost track from the commercial alt-rock era. Energy had never been a problem for the Goos, as it turns out, just solid songs.

As the music progresses backward, the songs get a little rougher, with a near punk energy propelling this power pop; "Hold Me Up" is a fine song; sounding like little else from 1990, it pointed the way toward the success of Green Day, Sum 41, Good Charlotte and the other soundalike bands a few years later. "Two Days In February" shows the acoustic balladry already established; it is the opposite of the cheerful energetic thrash of "Laughing," yet both facets of the sound are pulled off with aplomb. "I'm Addicted," from the debut, closes the album with a smile and the innocence of youth, the sound of a band that grew up on Big Star and Minor Threat and went with the latter (at first, anyway).

Had Hold Me Up been released a few years later, the band would have had success a lot sooner, but in 1990 the world wasn't quite ready for this sort of thing yet. Of course, great songs can break through regardless of the year, and unfortunately the Goos just didn't have that many for a long time, at least until A Boy Named Goo. There are a few highlights here, and certainly this is the best place to start for those wanting to discover the best of this band's forgotten history, but there isn't a whole lot to recommend in that back catalog.

Rating: C-

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