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Some bands don’t know when to quit

Goo Goo Dolls
What I Learned About Ego, Opinion, Art and Commerce
Warner Bros.

I’ve never liked the band, but I never wanted to or tried to like them either. Outside of the radio hits that grew on me like a radio hit will, this is the most Goo I’ve heard.

This release is a ploy to create some interest in the band. It could be a last ditch attempt to sell the band or maybe they have a new album coming out soon that the label worries might flop. The band has supposedly improved over the 13 years and six albums covered on this anthology.

If improvement means writing more commercial, vanilla radio songs, then yes, they have improved. The older stuff included from the first three albums are faster, guitar-driven, post-punk songs with the occasional great hook and powerful riff. Some tracks bring to mind the powerful rock of the Bay area band Samiam, among others, who eventually signed to a major but never wrote the cheesy radio hits.

The Dolls fortunately left off the most annoying hit, “Name,” but included “Naked,” another song ruined by excessive radio play.

Most songs are uptempo with heavy riffing. Lyrics can be insightful but are frequently cheesy.

The best thing about this is that it has what are likely the best cuts from the albums. If I wanted to own some Goo Goo Dolls, (which I wouldn’t because there a hundred better bands that sound just like them) I would own this cleverly-titled disc.

I have no doubt that they learned a lot about ego, opinion, art and commerce by playing the music business game. Judging by the insert pictures, They also learned about the teased-out glam metal mullet.

Warner Bros.

Depeche Mode

R.E.M. and Depeche Mode are almost dinosaurs. They’ve put out many albums over careers that span a decade or more. Now, they’ve each just released a new album. The albums aren’t really all that bad. I admire them for coming up with new material, but neither of them have really offered the world something new of value. The albums sound like Depeche Mode and R.E.M. always have – the main difference being improvements in recording technology and the use of electronics to create, most of the time, a richer sound.

R.E.M. hasn’t revealed anything other than 12 new R.E.M. tracks. If you were a die-hard fan in the past, you probably won’t be disappointed with the new offering. Some songs shine, many are somewhat dull. If you are wondering if you’ll become a fan based on Reveal, I doubt it. I do think that the disc will grow on you with repeated listens though.

Drum machines beats and electronics are used well. The soundscape is pleasant alternative-radio-ready light rock and unfortunately not very risky. Like classic R.E.M., some songs grow on you, sometimes to the point of actually striking a chord within. I liked “I’ve been high,” “Saturn Returns,” and the closer “Beachball.” Lyrics are classic Stipe, sometimes the meaning must be discovered, sometimes there isn’t one. Stipe can sing, but the average listener, like myself, sure can get sick of his voice. On this disc he fortunately keeps the whining and wailing to a dull roar.

Depeche Mode got some new beatmakers and synths. Their style hasn’t changed but the sound quality has somewhat. Exciter is contemporary and sometimes groovy, but often generic sounding and unexciting. If I were a depressed teen, I may get into them more like I did, somewhat so, in high school.

Housey tracks like “I Feel Loved” and some of the non-four-beat pulsers are often too heavy on the metallic synth lines. Feeling loved, in my opinion, is about non-metallic sounds.

One of the singles leads with “We’re the horniest boys / with the corniest ploys / who take the easiest girls / to our sleaziest worlds” over a hip-thrusting beat.

In fact, hip-thrusting, chugging, light industrial beats and sexual innuendo fill this album.

Martin Gore’s voice is still the best part of this band, as sexy and smooth as ever. The percussion of Airto Moreira adds some flavor to tracks, and strings are a nice addition to “When the Body Speaks.”

Various Artists Morricone Rmx Reprise

This is a fresh, groovy little album containing remixes of Ennio Morricone’s compositions. Morricone is one of the most popular film composers of the last century. His songs, of course, stand alone rather well. Remixing can sometimes go rather out of control but this batch of artists does a good job keeping tasty elements of the originals and the smooth Morricone vibe in the mix.

Apollo Four Forty lays down a big break for “The Man With The Harmonica.” Nightmares On Wax makes “Chi Mai,” funky and smooth, and of course Thievery Corporation doesn’t disappoint with a mix of “Il Grande Silencio.” Bigga Bush and DJ Dick from Rockers Hi Fi both throw down a version of “Clan of The Sicilians,” an excellently mysterious, accordion-driven song.

Most cuts are downtempo, from 90-110 beats per minute. A few pick up the pace a little and sometimes end up sounding a little too mainstream “electronica” with the mix.

On the whole this is a smooth album for kickin’ back, bathing, dinner parties and such.