Various Artists

A Tribute to the Goo Goo Dolls

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If the tribute band is a barometer of how successful your band has become, than what is the tribute album? The answer is unclear, but Big Eye Records hasn't let that stop them from assembling a tribute to Buffalo, NY, rockers the Goo Goo Dolls. It's important to note that the Goos do not appear anywhere on this release. But Soft -- the studio group hired to replicate Johnny Rzeznik, Robby Takac, and Mike Malinin -- does a fair job with most of the band's hits. Covering a Goo Goo Dolls song should be simple -- all you need are a few acoustic guitars and a voice resembling Rzeznik's pack-a-day croon. Unfortunately for Soft, what made the Goo Goo Dolls stars were the intangibles -- they paid their dues with long hours in a van, and have spent every minute since their popular breakthrough thanking the fans for the opportunity. Soft's alternate vocalists turn in passable versions of "Name," "Iris," and "Slide." But these were the Goos' biggest hits -- inescapable on any radio station in 1998, due to the double shot of the soundtrack to City of Angels and the band's own Dizzy up the Girl. It's cheap and easy to cover these songs, because listeners unconsciously play a tape of the original in their heads. Soft loses the thread on lesser hits like "Big Machine" and "Here Is Gone." Inexplicably, this tribute ends with three album tracks from the 2002 Goo Goo Dolls release Gutterflower. As the included songs are all post-1998, the concession of including a few songs from the band's early career -- 1993's breakout hit "We Are the Normal," at the very least -- would have been a nice touch. In the end, what A Tribute to the Goo Goo Dolls succeeds at best is making its chosen subject sound that much better.

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