Goo Goo Dolls
Greatest Hits Volume One: The Singles


3.0
good

Review

by Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF
November 15th, 2007 | 25 replies | 17,622 views


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rzeznik might still struggle to keep his art meaningful, but is he just killing time?

Of all the types of compilation - box sets, best ofs, rarity and b-side collections- Greatest Hits are the easiest. They practically pick themselves. There’s no wasting time with ugly things like ego, art and opinions; it’s just pure commerce. Beautiful, middle-of-the-road capitalism: the perfect summary of Brooklyn-born punk rockers-turned-AM radio staples the Goo Goo Dolls since releasing that triumvirate of unforgettable platinum singles between 1995 and 1997: ‘Name,’ ‘Slide’ and ‘Iris,’ the latter hinging upon the beautiful, not to mention shamelessly ironic (in hindsight), hook ”I don’t want the world to see me / ‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand / When everything’s made to be broken / I just want you to know who I am.”

The Goo Goo Dolls previously went the “Best Of” route with 2001’s aptly-named What I Learned About Ego, Art, Opinion and Commerce, controversially shunning all of the singles bar one from their breakthrough records A Boy Named Goo and Dizzy Up The Girl, including the aforementioned three. The more banally-titled Greatest Hits Volume One: The Singles flips the lid on the its predecessor, pulling together the group’s fourteen most successful radio singles, over half of which have been released since Ego. It all begs the question: does the world really need another Goo Goo Dolls collection? Well, at least in the sense that the world really needs anything, it has a better case than most: the dollar is in freefall, the price of oil shows no signs of slowing its ascent, and apparently there’s a war going on; it seems there’s never been a greater need for vague, ambiguous sentiments set against the lulling security of Johnny Rzeznik’s smoky baritone and strings right on cue. Mandolins are optional, as always. I say the more the merrier.

In truth, at least ten of these fourteen tracks will be instantly recognisable to most Americans, and at least five to the rest of the English-speaking world. However, recognisable and memorable are two completely different things and, given the formulaic nature of the songs, it’s never quite clear which songs are the genuine article and which are impostors, riding on the coattails of similar, better songs. Greatest Hits throws this glaring deficiency into stark contrast. The six best tracks on the album are, without a doubt, the run of six singles from ‘Name’ through ‘Broadway,’ five of which appeared on 1998’s Dizzy Up The Girl- though the group’s love/hate relationship with ‘Iris’ continues, their signature track consigned to last place in the running order. Back then, it seemed as if Rzeznik could do no wrong. If his melodies, even at their most bombastic, lacked definition, it was the sort of naïve sincerity- the same horse Bruce Springsteen’s been riding for about thirty years- shared with and probably inherited from the Replacements’ Paul Westerberg. He seemed to possess that ability to say a lot and nothing all at once, that inimitable quality of the great communicators, and Dizzy Up The Girl had this rare quality in abundance, both in Rzeznik and in bassist Robby Takac, who’s criminally been denied a single from every album, despite being arguably the more consistent writer.

Breakout single “Name” hangs on John’s tender promise that “if you could hide beside me, maybe for a while / I won’t tell no one your name.” ‘Slide’ is a silly love song, the type Paul McCartney told you about, or a debate over whether to abort or get married, depending on which verses you choose to stress; either way, the power of the line “what you feel is what you are and what you are is beautiful” is in no way diminished by the fact it barely even makes sense- like its subject, the sentiment is beautiful. ‘Broadway’ is the hidden gem within the Goo Goo Dolls’ repertoire, notwithstanding its brief stint on the charts. Just as ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ captured Dylan at his vicious, self-righteous best, Rzeznik has never been so vitriolic as he hits back at critics in the New York neighbourhood he grew up in. As parting blows go, it’s difficult to imagine one more damaging than “you talk about the world like it’s some place that you’ve been.” It’s the kind of line that makes you want enemies so you’ve got somebody to use it on, a home-wrecker. ‘Black Balloon’ is the most pointed of all the lyrics, and probably needs to be, addressing a far-gone heroin addict with the lines, “I saw the world spin beneath you, and scatter like earth from the spoon that was your womb.”

Dizzy Up The Girl was by all accounts a one-off pop album, an unusually balanced set of singles and should-be singles. Ever since, the Rzeznik and Co. have tried to redefine themselves in that context, determined to change just enough without losing what made Dizzy Up so special in the first place. As a result, they’ve wound up with a stack of compromise singles, some of which display the ingenuity of character of old: ‘Sympathy,’ for instance, finds the perfect middle ground between the essential cheerfulness of ‘Slide’ and the essential mandolin-ness of ‘Iris.’ Others display all the trappings of a songwriter who’s essentially resigned to being a cartoon of himself. ‘Stay with You’ is loud and pulsating, but could hardly be described as a “rocker,” while ‘Better Day’ and ‘Feel the Silence’ have all the pieces in the right places, but the ironic detachment in Rzeznik’s voice is, unfortunately, too convincing. For despite the billing, Greatest Hits Volume One is really only about one Goo Goo Doll and his own personal tribulations, a truth summed up by the refrain from Transformers-affiliated dud ‘Before It’s Too Late’: “Don’t fall, just be who you are / It’s all that we need in our lives.” Rzeznik might still struggle to keep his art meaningful; but is he just killing time when the point has long passed at which people will accept any old shit he signs his name to?



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user ratings (45)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2007



16071 Comments


This review is an enigma wrapped in an enigma. So much commentary.
"Iris" still rules of course.

Digging: Trophy Scars - Holy Vacants

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2007



16071 Comments


Sometimes you rant too much about like I dont know the relevance of things that don't matter at all.

AtavanHalen
November 15th 2007



17927 Comments


This was an entertaining read while I'm waiting for the bell to ring so I can get the hell out of here.

I'm depressed that Up Yours isn't on here.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2007



16071 Comments


I used to love the goo goo dolls so I'm probably too biased to respond to that effectively.

Iluvatar
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2007



16071 Comments


Everything since Gutterflower has been pretty lame .

aka I dislike Let Love InThis Message Edited On 11.15.07

AtavanHalen
November 15th 2007



17927 Comments


I haven't heard either Gutterflower or Let Love In. To be honest, haven't listened to this band since I was a kid.

Jom
Staff Reviewer
November 15th 2007



2593 Comments


Dizzy Up the Girl rules but more than 1/3 of this* album is devoted to it. I take it that this album is great for people who like buying singles albums instead of a band's entire discography.

*edit

Also, good review. Not really sure what Iluvatar was getting at with the whole ranting about relevance thing, though.This Message Edited On 11.15.07

NOTINTHEFACE
November 15th 2007



1653 Comments


Great review, as always. I've been listening to these guys for years, and other favorites have come and gone but the Goo's are still my sentimental favorite.
As for the album, the tracklisting is highly predictable, although I found their Transformers single to be better than the entire Let Love In disc combined and may pick this up just for that and the remixes.
Again, wonderful review. I enjoyed your ranting. :D

jason_f90
November 15th 2007



203 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

'Here Is Gone' is a great track, you could have mentioned it somewhere in your review.

I've been following them for a while and I think they're the best pop rock/mainstream rock band to come out in the 90s (with the possible exception of Matchbox Twenty).

samthebassman
November 16th 2007



2164 Comments


This is a pretty pointless release, but still a great collection of songs.

Patrick
November 16th 2007



1891 Comments


Greatest hits comps can blow me. Robbie was good before Dizzy Up The Girl. Superstar Carwash Owns, Let Love In sucks. I think they are releasing a bsides thing right? If they are I'd get that. I really want their first album though.

Willie
Moderator
November 16th 2007



15774 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If the "best of" CD doesn't have the bass player singing in any of the songs, then I'd probably consider buying it if I didn't already have everything up to Gutterflower already.

Digging: Teramaze - Esoteric Symbolism

devilsown667
November 17th 2007



14 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Excellent,excellent review.

I have both "Gutterflower" and "Let Love In" and they are gathering dust on my shelves for more than a year.This is one of the bands make wonderful background music-useful while doing your homework or something.Music for your sentimental adolescence that you eventually grow out of.

Would be a nice thing to gift your girlfriend on her birthday,though.This Message Edited On 11.17.07

Isola
November 21st 2007



421 Comments


Bah just "new" singles... They've missed like their 5 best songs...

Dreakon
November 21st 2007



342 Comments


Greatest Hits albums are good for people who let the band slip by their entire lives and are looking for a way to have some of their best songs without buying 5 different CD's.

I think I would enjoy this album, since most of my favorite Goo Goo Dolls songs are the singles.

Patrick
November 21st 2007



1891 Comments


If the "best of" CD doesn't have the bass player singing in any of the songs, then I'd probably consider buying it if I didn't already have everything up to Gutterflower already.


where did you find the first one?


Correction
November 21st 2007



188 Comments


Let Love In, the pinnacle of music ever


ooh, baby.

CushMG15
November 21st 2007



1802 Comments


I just kind of want to know where Long Way Down is...

Patrick
November 21st 2007



1891 Comments


true that, plus the other million forgotten alt rock classics.

Isola
November 22nd 2007



421 Comments


...Like Cuz You're Gone.... Or Naked.



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