While you may not be quick to add the Goo Goo Dolls to your list of favorite bands on Facebook, it’s hard to deny the simple appeal of its melodic alternative rock. Its sound is about as generic and commercial as it could possibly be, but you have to admit, the band has some pretty good songs.
Greatest Hits Volume One: The Singles puts those songs all in one place, making for the ultimate guilty pleasure album. The Goo’s first best-of compilation includes 14 of the band’s 22 singles since it achieved mainstream success, which are well-known by fans and even casual listeners almost by default. The most immediate with the Greatest Hits compilation is that with just 14 songs and a definite skew toward the Goo’s later career, the album passes over most of its early singles and ignores a progression in its music.
The compilation leaves out every single from before the 1998 album Dizzy Up the Girl except “Name,” the track from A Boy Named Goo that put the band on the mainstream map. Skipping over “Long Way Down” and other earlier singles, it’s clear the band is showcasing the more polished, radio-friendly side of its catalogue.
Even “Name” has been re-recorded for Greatest Hits to conform to the typical refined sound of the Goo’s later albums – to an unfortunate end. Frontman John Rzeznik’s new vocals sound strained, as if he’s trying too hard to sing in that prepackaged style. The drums and vocals both come in earlier than in the original version (and at the same time), rushing the entire song. And the haunting reverb on the acoustic guitar during the intro? Gone, as well as the song’s distinctive character.
The only new single on Greatest Hits is “Before It’s Too Late” from the “Transformers” movie soundtrack. Fit for your dentist’s waiting room, the track is about as bland as the band has ever sounded, and the lyrics are equally stale. A prototypically inspirational song about life and love that comes off tired and uninspired, the lyrics are often redundant and lame: “So live like you mean it / Love ’til you feel it / It’s all that we need in our lives.”
Thankfully, the compilation’s missteps are overcome by the presence of all that we know and love by the Goo Goo Dolls: “Iris,” “Black Balloon,” “Here Is Gone.” “Slide” is impossible not to sing along to, as are most of the band’s singles over the years.
Die-hard fans may not be satisfied with the rather incomprehensive compilation, but for those of us who became addicted to the singles, Greatest Hits Volume One: The Singles is the least conspicuous way to enjoy.
Rating: Three out of five stars.
Goo Goo Dolls – Greatest Hits Volume One: The Singles