There was a moment in the spring of 1993, as the single "Two Princes" and the debut album Pocket Full of Kryptonite peaked in the top five of their respective charts, that the Spin Doctors appeared to be on the brink of a big career. Only a little over a year later, when Turn It Upside Down peaked well below the Top Ten in its first week of release and failed to produce a Top 40 hit, the group began a commercial slide that turned into one of the more spectacular flame-outs of the '90s when their third album, You've Got to Believe in Something, didn't even sell well enough to reach the charts. Pop fans can be fickle, but this was ridiculous. That at least seems to be the reasoning behind the selections on Just Go Ahead Now: A Retrospective ("Just go ahead now" is the tag line of "Two Princes"), which excerpts five tracks each from the three albums, adding the previously unreleased mid-tempo rocker "Miss America" and a live version of "Refrigerator Car" from Pocket Full of Kryptonite that was on the concert album Homebelly Groove...Live. Compilation producer Bruce Dickinson's apparent contention that the three studio albums are of equal value is not borne out by a listen to the disc. Those first five tracks, all of which were album rock radio hits and three of which reached the singles charts, present the band at its lively, kinetic best, with Chris Barron rhythmically singing his wordy lyrics over the funky grooves. But as soon as "Cleopatra's Cat," the first track from Turn It Upside Down, begins, the music begins to seem forced. There are some good songs as the disc goes on -- the Dylan-ish "If Wishes Were Horses," for example, and "She Used to Be Mine," both from You've Got to Believe in Something -- but nothing to match the rush of the early tracks. The group would have been better served by a more careful selection of its Epic recordings, with more from Pocket Full of Kryptonite, better and fewer choices from the second and third albums (where's "Mary Jane"?), and, especially, more live tracks. As it is, this release looks like the record label's excuse to delete the Spin Doctors' other albums while keeping a compilation in print.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann