Goo Goo Dolls

Greatest Hits, Vol. 2

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If the first volume of the Goo Goo Dolls Greatest Hits stripped clean any vestiges of the Buffalo band's rock & roll past by concentrating on their placid AAA radio hits, the second installment is a classic case of over-corrective steering, offering nothing but album tracks, B-sides, demos, fan favorites, and covers, almost all of which happen to feature the loud, blaring guitar that was conspicuously missing from Vol. 1. This doesn't necessarily mean that the album is a full-blown excavation of the group's beginnings, as it does focus on their major-label years, often digging fairly deep -- or at least far enough to exclude such MTV-ready singles as "We Are the Normal," cut before the days of "Iris." That breakthrough hit is here in demo form, providing one of the collection's lightest moments, but its very presence accentuates how this collection is designed as fan bait, to rope in diehards who have been around since the beginning and probably wish the Goo Goo Dolls never cut "Name." For those fans, this provides a bunch of high-octane rock & roll, with all the promise and banality that phrase suggests, as the Dolls can strike every rock & roll pose without ever really feeling like they're rocking; witness how the breakneck "Torn Apart" never really seems in danger of spitting in two. Such a complaint is one lodged by the uncommitted; for the devoted this is a good way to catch a lot of their better latter-day hard rock material and some rarities. But for anybody who isn't a fan, it's hard to wonder how a band with the good taste to cover both the Plimsouls' "A Million Miles Away" and the Soft Boys' "I Wanna Destroy You" -- the former a staple of '80s oldies comp, the latter a college-radio cult classic -- could wind up sounding so stiff and ham-fisted.

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