CD Review of Vol. 2 by Goo Goo Dolls
Recommended if you like
The Replacements, Matchbox 20,
Soul Asylum
Label
Warner Bros.
Goo Goo Dolls: Vol. 2

Reviewed by Will Harris

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N
o, you’re not imagining things: it really has been less than a year since the Goo Goo Dolls put out a best-of disc.

Back in November 2007, the guys released Greatest Hits, Volume 1: The Singles, an inaccurately titled collection – several singles from the band’s discography were MIA – which, for its faults, at least gave the band’s most mainstream fans a CD that they’d feel comfortable putting into their players and never removing. Those who had grown up with the Goos, however, were very much aware of the album’s omissions, so when Robby Takac, the band’s bassist, teased Bullz-Eye with the revelation that a second volume of “hits” was imminent, there was reason to presume that the sequel would remedy the problems of its predecessor. While Vol. 2 definitely provides a wealth of material that will make the old-school Goo Goo Dolls fans giddy with delight, it takes a tactic that will still leave people complaining, “Yes, but after two volumes, we still don’t have all of your greatest hits, now do we?”

Give the Goos credit: Vol. 2 does not leave the distasteful impression that the band is ashamed of their earlier, less glossy work. (This is a statement which could not be said of Vol. 1.) Not only does the collection dare to delve into their self-titled debut for “Torn Apart” and pop into Jed long enough to contribute “No Way Out,” but it also rounds up “I’m Awake Now,” a track from the Hold Me Up era which had previously only available on the soundtrack to the 1991 film “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.” There are no originals from Hold Me Up to be found, but a track from that album – the band’s take on the Plimsouls’ “A Million Miles Away” – does turn up toward the end of the collection as part of a seven-pack of covers the Goos have recorded over the years. (Their version of INXS’s “Don’t Change” is particularly enjoyable, but why on Earth is the cover of the Soft Boys’ “I Wanna Destroy You” credited to one Otis Fagg rather than its actual songwriter, Robyn Hitchcock?) Beyond these rarities, there’s also a bit of material from each of the band’s other albums, along with their “Batman & Robin” soundtrack contribution, “Lazy Eye,” a live version of “All Eyes on Me,” from Dizzy Up the Girl, and a new mix of “We’ll Be Here (When You’re Gone),” from Let Love In.

Goo Goo Dolls

Unfortunately, in the end, there’s no more appropriate word to describe this set than “weird.” It might be called Vol. 2, but it offers a picture of the band’s past that feels just as random as their last attempt at a historical round-up, 2001’s What I Learned About Ego, Opinion, Art & Commerce. There seems to be a strangely steadfast determination – either by the band or the label – to never release an all-inclusive look at the band’s musical evolution. There’s a great 2-disc set of the Goo Goo Dolls’ career that could be made by any fan with an eye toward both historical importance and chart success, and all it would take is a phone call to the fine folks at Rhino Records to make it happen. Instead, we get pieces of the past delivered in dribs and drabs, invariably with at least one or two mainstream tracks thrown into the musical mix to make it of interest to the latter-day fans (here, it comes courtesy of the original demo of “Iris”), making it an interesting collection but not comprehensive on any level.

There is at least one reason for all fans of the Goos to pick up Vol. 2, however, and that’s the addition of a DVD which includes 17 of the band’s videos, stretching as far back as “There You Are,” and six tracks recorded live at Red Rocks. The early videos are definitely a hoot, and if the concert material is impressive for no other reason, it’s nice to see that the guys can still pull off their cover of the Lime Spiders’ “Slave Girl.”

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