Dizzy Up The Girl

REVIEW: Goo Goo Dolls – Dizzy Up the Girl (1998)

GOO GOO DOLLS – Dizzy Up the Girl (1998 Warner)

The Goo Goo Dolls were made for the 90s.  When the big bands dropped off the charts, where were we to get our fix of melodic rock with acoustic ballads?  From Buffalo, NY.  The sixth Goos album, Dizzy Up the Girl, was the latest in a stream of albums that got progressively less punk and more acoustic.  It was also their first album with critically acclaimed new drummer Mike Malinin, and the first since they had a huge single in “Name”.  It’s no surprise they went further in that direction.

Commercial intents aside, Dizzy Up the Girl is a remarkable album.  Every song helmed by singer/guitarist Johnny Rzeznik boasts an explosive chorus.  The four tracks with bassist Robby Takac singing are the ones that maintain a punk aesthetic, but with a refined sense of composition.

Lead track “Dizzy” is the first of many great single-worthy choruses.  In fact it was a single, though not the biggest of the bunch.  That would of course be “Iris”, previously issued on the soundtrack to City of Angels.  The 90s were not that much different from the 80s when it came down to it, and a power ballad is what made the Goos a household name.  Better than Iris though is the single “Slide”.  It charted just as high as “Iris” (#1) in the US and Canada.  Unlike “Iris”, “Slide” has a driving acoustic vibe.  It’s the kind of tune Extreme made their bread and butter with, like “Hole Hearted”.

Two years after “Iris”, the album was still producing singles.  “Broadway” is just as good as “Slide” with more emphasis on the electric guitar.  It has an earthy, down home quality.  “Black Balloon”, another single, takes it back to acoustic with harmonics, and strings added by Canadian David Campbell (father of Beck).  Even without the accompaniment it’s one of their biggest and best choruses.

Takac’s four tunes (“January Friend”, “Amigone”, “Full Forever”, and “Extra Pale”) are great breaks between Rzeznik’s more mainstream crooning.  Robby’s rasp isn’t commercial but it’s the only real link back to their punk rock days.  His songs don’t suck.  “Amigone” (pronounced “Am I Gone”) sticks to the brain like chunky peanut butter.

Four of the five singles are top-loaded onto the front of the album, normally a death knell for a solid listen.  Not in this case.  The Goos boasted album tracks as good as their singles.  “Acoustic #3” is good enough to be yet another single.   “Bullet Proof”, with its driving guitar, could have been the album opener.  The chorus lifts off to the atmosphere.  It’s the kind of chorus you expected from the 1980s, not the 1990s.  A dramatic “All Eyes On Me” could also have been a solid album opener.  All they need is a closer!  Nope, they got that too:  “Hate This Place” winds things up nicely the way it began.  “Hold on, dream away, you’re my sweet charade.”

Dizzy Up the Girl might not be up your alley, but in the 90s, choice was more limited.  It was hard to find mainstream rock that didn’t suck.  This one stands the test of time, with a collection of excellent guitar-based tunes that fit the mold.

4.5/5 stars

Part 172: The Goo Goo Dolls

RECORD STORE TALES Part 172:  The Goo Goo Dolls

Back in 1995, when the Goo Goo Dolls finally made the big time with “Name”, I sold an assload of those albums in my store.  People couldn’t get enough of them back then.  I personally had never even listened to it.  I mean, there were so many alt-rock bands in 1995 and ’96!  Better Than Ezra, Presidents of the United States of America, Matchbox 20…and I wasn’t interested in any of them.  I was a metal head.

As it turns out, (this is complicated, so bear with me) my uncle worked with the mother of the fiance of bassist Robby Takac.  So my aunt started asking me all these questions about this band, Goo Goo Dolls.  Do you know them?  Do you sell them in your store?  Etc.

I told my aunt, yes I know Goo Goo Dolls, and yes, I sell a ton of them in our store.  They were definitely one of our top sellers, for pretty much a year straight.  I mean they were huge at the time.

My aunt and uncle ended up being invited to the wedding, and Goo Goo Dolls played at the reception.  They had a great time, very much enjoyed herself, and met the band.  Not knowing that I had never listened to a Goo Goo Dolls song in my life, my aunt told Robby and the band that I was a big supporter and sold a whole bunch of their discs in my store for them.

To their credit, they were very thankful (if a tad misled), and FedEx’d my aunt a signed glossy in gratitude!

“Hi Michael,” it says, “Thanks a lot for your help!”  It was signed by Robby, lead singer Johnny Rzeznik, and new drummer Mike Malinin.

A tad bemused, I thought it might be a good idea to actually do them the service of listening to their music.  So I began to do that, in store, and found that I actually enjoyed the band quite a bit.  I like A Boy Named Goo, the album that I supposedly helped them out with, but I think Superstar Car Wash (the album previous) and Dizzy Up The Girl (the album that followed) are both superior.  I still like them today, leaning towards the early punk material, with a preference to their excellent deep cuts compilation, What I Learned About Ego, Opinion, Art & Commerce.  

So there you go.  If it wasn’t for a slight misunderstanding, I might never have discovered the band!