Review Summary: A cool collection of the little more unknown Goo songs, some alternative versions and rarities for the more advanced fan. Everyone could find some songs here that they like.
What I Learned About Ego, Opinion, Art & Commerce by The Goo Goo Dolls
The Goo Goo Dolls, formerly a punk-rock band from Buffalo, New York, started as many other great bands as a college band, playing their rough, hard punk-rock tunes and covers. This style coloured their first three albums, Goo Goo Dolls (1987), Jed (1989) and Hold Me Up (1991). But with Superstar Carwash from 1993 something happened, something that became much clearer due to the release of A Boy Named Goo in 1995. They had left the college-era. Even though both Superstar Carwash and A Boy Named Goo contained songs that could easily have been on Jed, something was still different. There first real hit came from A Boy Named Goo and was named "Name". Rzeznik was really into The Replacements and they always put a good ballad on their records, so he thought "Hey, what the hell, let's do this" and recorded this acoustic song he never thought would be a hit. This was like a turning point for the band when this song got lots of airplay in '95. Personally I don't like the term "selling out", but some might call this just that. This changed the band completely, after a three-year break; the band released their #1 hit album, Dizzy Up The Girl. This was a whole new approach by the Goo's. The stardom "Name" caused had a major impact on this album, which you definitely notice on the sound. Dizzy Up The Girl contained the most known Goo's song, "Iris" which was written for the movie "City of Angels" with Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage. Rzeznik once again doubted it would be a hit, because it was on a movie soundtrack with the likes of U2 and Peter Gabriel, but boy, was he wrong or was he wrong?
Dizzy Up The Girl and specifically "Iris" put The Goo's on the mainstream map. A few years later, in 2001, they released "What I Learned About Ego, Opinion, Art & Commerce" which features songs from all their previous albums, but it's NOT a greatest hits album. It doesn't feature neither "Iris", "Black Balloon" nor "Broadway", all hit singles from Dizzy Up The Girl. I see it more like a remastered and edited versions of the best songs of their old albums plus some tracks from Dizzy Up The Girl that deserved more credit than they were given back in 1998. That was the history lesson, let's get the review fired up.
John Rzeznik, guitar and songwriting.
Robby Takac, bass and songwriting.
Mike Malinin, drums on songs after 1995.
George Tututska, drums on songs before 1995 and some songwriting.
Tracklisting as followed.
1) Bullet Proof
A very guitar-driven tune from Dizzy Up The Girl, fast intro that descends into a melodic verse with Rzeznik almost whispering. The chorus and pre-chorus then explodes into a fast guitar-feast with excellent drumming by Mike. The chorus and pre-chorus is backed up by Robby which adds a good dimension too it. A reminder of the older Goo's, but still off their first real pop-rock album. The lyrics on this isn?t Rzeznik?s best, but still far from the worst. 4/5
2) All Eyes On Me
Another Dizzy song, with a kind of slow intro with some light drumming, soft guitar-picking and backed up by distinguished bass-lines. The verse doesn't really tell me something and sounds almost like a short highway to the chorus, which is simply amazing. Strong lyrics, strong singing by Rzeznik. If the verses would have been a little more interesting this would have been a clear 5 out of 5. 4/5
Yet another song from Dizzy, though this is one of Robby's song. I'm not a very big fan of his songs and this is no exception sadly. This reminds much of the roots of the Goo's, the intro and chorus being very loud and fast. Great drumming by Mike on this though. Filler track, like all other Robby tracks on Dizzy Up The Girl. 2/5
4) Acoustic #3
As the name states it's an acoustic song, with only Rzeznik, an acoustic guitar and some strings in the background. This is the last song on this record from Dizzy Up The Girl and as a side-note I can add that the version on Dizzy lacks the background-strings. Very emotional and beautiful lyrics, backed up with amazing guitar-picking by Rzeznik. I personally love this song and think it's one of the best off Dizzy Up The Girl. It's kinda short, only 2:25 long (Dizzy version is even shorter than that) but it's still one of the best on this album. 4.5/5
Now, here it gets interesting. A very mixing song from A Boy Named Goo with great lyrics. Slow guitar-picking intro from an electric guitar with Rzeznik on vocals (isn't featured on A Boy Named Goo), which then turns into a catchy rock part before slowing down to the verse. Rzeznik is really on top with his vocals here, the matching from the slower parts with the louder and faster parts on the chorus is excellent. A typically Boy Named Goo song, emotional lyrics though still with a very rockish sound. 3.5/5
6) Ain't That Unusual
Another Boy Named Goo song and this is really Rzeznik at his best. This song is very guitar-driven and the singing is just great. Intro is raw guitar backed up by drums and bass, while verses are only backed up with distorted guitar and light drumming. Quite angry song which John delivers very good. Only complains I got on this song is about the solo and the bridge part, which really tells me nothing at all. 4/5
7) Burnin' Up
Yeah, Robby again, this time from A Boy Named Goo. Another disappointment? No, actually not. This time Robby really impress me. Really great lyrics and perfect guitar backup by John. A rough, raw and stunning song. I especially like the ending part of the first verse with "you're burnin' up inside and no one cares" which really shows Robby can write emotional things too, he also ends the song perfect by almost screaming the last verse and filling the outro with a variation of the chorus which I really like. This song has it all. 5/5
8) Flat Top
A varying guitar riff opens up this song until Rzeznik explodes into these amazing lyrics:
"Flat top intervention
Bringin' home the new invention
See it there in pieces on the ground"
This must be Rzeznik's lyrically masterpiece of this album, every line of this song should be quoted everywhere and should stay in your head for weeks.
The music reminds me of Naked, is really catchy and shifts between rough riffs and solid finger-picking. It also features a great guitar solo. This song has it all man, go listen. 5/5
Alright, here it is. The first hit. Very acoustic, very radio-friendly. Yeah, it's a great song, but I find it kind of dull from time to time. Quite fast song for being acoustic, great guitar-picks although I can find that the lyrics doesn't really fit in with the way John sings this song. The lyrics are good, but I think it's a little too cryptic to find touching or emotional enough. 3.5/5
10) Fallin? Down
Once again a partly guitar-driven intro with heavy distortion which turns into a catchy verse and chorus which sounds rather similar. Nothing bad with that, the "slow-picking-guitar-verse-formula" becomes rather boring after a few songs so this is appreciated. After the second verse and chorus the songs evolves into a bridge with heavy guitar-riffs and a really cool solo which then turns into a last chorus. This is the opening track on Superstar Carwash, which really can be heard when listening to it. 3.9/5
11) Another Second Time Around
Robby song again and it ain't all bad, although not as good as Burnin' Up it is way better than Amigone. Although I find the intro very weird, the song becomes better and better the longer it runs. The chorus is much better than the first verse/intro were Robby's voice is only backed up by a kind of weak guitar-riff. Try hearing the picking guitar in the second verse, which I find very enjoyable. 3.2/5
12) Cuz' You're Gone
A mediocre guitar-intro which after a while is backed up with drums, which then plays through the verse while John sings rather boring but then something happens, the lyrics' changing and so does his singing. The pre-chorus is one of most amazing highlights of this album, "you beat your head upon your wall, you disconnect yourself from it all". Simply amazing, which you can hear John thinks as well, "cause he's singing emerges into something I can't really describe and this puts a very nice touch on the chorus itself as well. The song evolves and becomes more and more beautiful for every second after the first chorus and the ending is just spectacular. My absolute favorite song off both this and Superstar Carwash. 5/5
13) We Are The Normal
The lyrics to this song is actually written by former lead-singer and songwriter of The Replacements Paul Westerberg, which you really can tell 'cause it's nothing like John's or Robby's work. Not all bad though, intro with soft acoustic guitar-riffs and violins playing which at the start of the verse also includes drums. You can really feel it isn't John's song due to his way of singing it and I believe Robby's voice might have fitted better in. Still, a cool song which separates itself from the Goo-style. 3.2/5
14) Girl Right Next To Me
Heavy distorted guitar opens up this tune and follows the whole track from start to end. It also features some great lyrics and singing by Rzeznik and an amazing guitar solo, probably the coolest off the album. I personally like this song a lot and it's really emotional even though heavy distorted. Definitely one of the highlights off both his album and Superstar Carwash. 4/5
15) Lucky Star
The intro for this song reminds me heavily of some other Goo's song and it's still pretty cool, easy but cool with a strong guitar riff and some heavy Robby-bassing. The verses are built on some muted guitars and they are quite sleepy, as well as Robby's singing. The chorus though is quite enjoyable and overall this is not a bad song. If the verses would have been a little more interesting this would have been one of Robby's best songs, definitely. 3.5/5
16) On The Lie
Back to John here on this tune. Quite a funny melody on this one, created by amazing guitars with both power and finesse. Really catchy tune, really catchy lyrics but it feels like the song lacks something that makes it really special. The solo isn't John's best by far, but hey, it's okay man. 3/5
17) Just The Way You Are
This is probably John's weakest moment on this album. This song wasn't good on Hold Me Up and it isn't good here either. The whole song seems messy and feels mostly like a bad mix-up between a random song off A Boy Named Goo and Jed.
The only things worth mentioning in a positive way is the solo, which is quite good and possibly the ending were John shouts "Hold me up". 1.5/5
18) Two Days In February
Yes, Two Days In February were on Hold Me Up as the ending song, but it's not the same version thankfully. This must have been recorded much later than the original and I like this new version a lot. John's singing has really improved and the pronouncing of the words and syllables makes it sound much more enjoyable than the original version. I'm glad they did this, 'cause this song is to good to just screw up like they did on Hold Me Up. The lyrics are beautiful and are easy to relate too which makes it really emotional in combination with the acoustic guitar. 4.7/5
The old Goo's at their best. Very punk, very Robby. Robby almost screams the verses and chorus and it actually sounds kind of good. Especially the chorus, even though the lyrics isn't his best exactly. Very tough song, hard guitars and heavy beating on the drums by Tututska. Cool to see one of their really punkish tunes for once. 3/5
20) There You Are
At first I thought this song was really dull, but when I gave it a few listens I have really started to enjoy it. The first verse is simply great, the chorus might lyrically be quite boring but John makes up for it with his excellent singing. As a whole this song kicks ass and it reminds sometimes of the Goo's roots as punks. 4/5
21) Up Yours
Yeah, another punk song which you probably understood by just seeing the name of it. This time it's John's turn to shout a little and he does it really interesting, sadly it's kinda short but it isn't every day you hear John Rzeznik scream "Up yours, stop your whine", so enjoy. 3/5
22) I'm Addicted
The last song on the album is little of a rarity, a song from the Goo's self-titled debut from 1987 (same year I was born actually). Yeah, it's cool they featured it just because many people haven't heard them from so "far" back but it isn't a good song unfortunately. Messy sound-quality also adds up to the low rating. I can't even recognise whose singing. 1/5
To conclude this review I would like to say something's about this album. This album isn't for everyone, it isn't a greatest hits or something like that. Do you wanna hear the hits go buy Dizzy Up The Girl instead. This record is more for the advanced Goo-listener who want to hear more than the radio edits. The album mostly covers Superstar Carwash and A Boy Named Goo and some songs from Dizzy Up The Girl that hasn't been overplayed just yet. What I personally think is a little sad is that they "forgot" to put "Long Way Down" on this, because I think it's one of the Goo's best songs. If you already own Superstar Carwash and A Boy Named Goo you might be disappointed by this album 'cause it basically the same songs. Overall I see this as mixture between what should have been a greatest hits and a b-sides collection and I think it's worth every penny.
Overall album rating: 4/5.