The Goo Goo Dolls | Greatest Hits Vol. 1 – The Singles (Warner Bros.)

cd_googoo.jpgThe non-chronological tracklisting helps draw attention to songs that work better in an album context than they did as radio singles; the folk-y guitar-and-banjo number "Sympathy," in particular, never sounded so good as it does as a lead-in to "Iris."

 

 

Some bands are just born to make "best of" albums. The Goo Goo Dolls are almost the epitome of that kind of a band, a band with no less than nine songs that anyone who has turned on a radio in the last ten years will instantly recognize, highlights from a series of often spotty full-length albums. The band has their diehard fans, to be sure, but for most listeners, one Goo Goo Dolls CD is really all you’d ever need. Greatest Hits Vol. 1 – The Singles sets out to be that one CD.

Does it succeed? Well, yes and no, but it depends on what exactly a listener is looking for in that one vital collection. Want a complete overview of the Goos’ entire career? This ain’t it, as it covers only the group’s last three records, ignoring their five albums for Metal Blade as Replacements-worshipping punk rockers in favor of their radio darling days on Warner Bros. Want a primer on what to expect if you dig deeper into the Goos’ catalog? This ain’t that, either—if Greatest Hits was your only guide, you’d have no idea that the band has two singers, as bassist Robby Takac has yet to have one of his many songs (usually the faster-paced, punkier ones) released to radio.

But what if you just want a CD that collects every Goos song you know and love from the radio? Well, this ain’t that, either, but it at least comes awful close. Covering only the Warner years means that the band’s first hit album, 1995’s A Boy Named Goo, is not featured here, and though their breakthrough single "Name" shows up (in the form of a newly recorded-yet-nearly-identical-to-the-original version), its album-mate "Long Way Down" does not. Given that the song is the most rockin’ the band ever released to radio, its absence in the midst of so many mid-tempo ballads is definitely felt. Also, though four songs from last year’s Let Love In make the cut, the album’s most-played cut (in this radio market, anyway), a cover of Supertramp’s "Give a Little Bit," is surprisingly absent, as well.

What did make the cut, however, is pretty much everything the casual fan is looking for. The #1 smash hits—"Name," the upbeat love song "Slide," and the band’s uber-hit, the City of Angels power ballad "Iris"—all appear. The band’s singles tend to be fairly similar mid-tempo ballads built on singer/guitarist Johnny Rzeznik’s breathy vocals; even the more rocking songs ("Big Machine," "Slide") don’t really rock, but any fan of good, catchy pop songs will find plenty to like here. The CD is worth the price of admission for "Broadway" alone, a phenomenal slice of Westerberg-ian pop, a rollicking half-country rave-up paired whose downtrodden characters ("the young man sitting in the old man’s bar, waiting for his turn to die") are fully realized in Rzeznik’s finest set of lyrics. The non-chronological tracklisting helps draw attention to songs that work better in an album context than they did as radio singles; the folk-y guitar-and-banjo number "Sympathy," in particular, never sounded so good as it does as a lead-in to "Iris."

The Goo Goo Dolls are unfairly maligned for writing saccharine, sappy ballads, and given that their singles often followed that formula to a T, this collection likely won’t change any minds. Still, this is a solid collection of catchy pop songs, and any regular listener to AAA (adult album alternative) radio will find much here to like. A- | Jason Green

RIYL: The Goo Goo Dolls, matchbox twenty, Lifehouse

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply