Sound: If you already picked up the Goo Goo Dolls release from last year, Greatest Hits Volume One: The Singles, you likely already know that the newest release is dedicated more to the band's lesser-known songs (I.e., rarities, B-sides, and covers). Because the latest 2-disk release, simply called Volume 2, has very few hits, it may be a little hard to completely get into it at first. The CD portion does have some very interesting takes on hits by other artists, but the highlight still ends up being the DVD, which features pretty much all of the band's hit videos.
If you don't own every Goo Goo Dolls CD, then the first disk should be fairly eye-opening. The first 15 tracks cover a huge amount of ground chronologically, and we get a chance to hear the punk sound that originally drove the Goo Goo Dolls' music. Given that so many of the band's songs tend to be anywhere from mid-tempo to balladesque these days, the highlight of the first 15 tracks is when bassist Robby Takac acts as the frontman. He's no slouch in terms of performance, and he throws everything he has into tracks like Torn Apart. While that era of The Goo Goo Dolls is a far cry from what we hear on the radio today, the trio actually still had quite a catchy, yet edgy sound.
A demo version of Iris is included on disk one, and as demos are supposed to be, it's a little rough around the edges. While it's a cool glimpse at a rough cut, it does seem to lag at times. That's a track for the hardcore fans. Among the other songs included on disk 1 are Lazy Eye, the newly mixed We'll Be Here (When You're Gone), and a live version of All Eyes On Me. There are quite a few likeable tracks, but the 7 covers included on the CD are a bit more interesting. The standout among the covers is once again Takac, who performs a version of the Lime Spiders' Slave Girl. It's a very cool song to begin with, and Takac does his best to keep the punk vibe alive within it. Johnny Rzeznik actually gets in touch with his punk side as well singing The Plimsouls' Million Miles Away, and it's refreshing to hear a different side than his usual soft-spoken delivery.
When it comes down to it, the DVD is a big selling point. Not only do you get all of the instantly recognizable songs (Iris, Slide, Black Balloon, and We Are The Normal to name a few) in video form, there are also 6 songs taken from the Goo Goo Dolls' performance at Red Rocks. The latter section obviously doesn't cover the full performance, but highlights include the crowd favorite Long Way Down and, once again, Takac's killer version of Slave Girl. // 8
Lyrics: Relationships and feelings definitely do tend to pop up as themes in Volume 2, much like they did in Volume 1. But say what you will, the ballads and love-driven songs have been the Goo Goo Dolls' bread and butter. You get tons of material between the 2 disks, and if you don't care for the sentimental side of the band, there's much more that they have to offer between the 2 disks. // 9
Overall Impression: In terms of the music on disk 1 only, that's something that will have to grow on you. There will be those out there who already own every Goo Goo Dolls album and will recognize the bulk of the material, but Volume 2's rarities (and even the demo of Iris) don't always immediately click. The band wisely included enough material elsewhere in the package, and having all of the hit videos and live footage from Red Rocks does make it a good value all in all. // 8