Goo Goo Dolls - Live at The Academy 1995 art

Goo Goo Dolls – Live at The Academy 1995 (Live Album Review)

Goo Goo Dolls 2023 promo - Robby Takac, John Rzeznik

For most mainstream listeners, the Goo Goo Dolls story began in 1995 with the mega hit “Name.” And for some, the story actually began even later with 1998’s hit “Iris.” However, those who have followed the band from the early days, are well aware that their journey began much, much earlier.

A tale that has perhaps been told before, the Goo Goo Dolls started out as a Garage Punk Rock band in the working class city of Buffalo, New York. From here turning to Power Pop around the release 1990 Hold Me Up, it was really 1993’s Superstar Car Wash that showcased the biggest stylistically shift for the band. More polished, Alternative Rock, highly influenced by The Replacements, the album was a perfect snapshot of a band who was ready to explode onto the mainstream. Naturally, the top blew off in 1995 with A Boy Named Goo, and by 1998’s Dizzy Up The Girl, Goo Goo Dolls were one of the biggest around.

All interesting factors to look back on in hindsight, the truth of the matter is the early years of the band produced some really great music. Thankfully not forgotten about, some of these tracks have been featured on more recent compilations such as 2017’s Pickpockets, Petty Thieves and Tiny Victories 1987-1995. Nice to see that Warner Bros. wants to celebrate the rich history of the Goo Goo Dolls, now in late 2023, coming as a complete surprise to many fans is a special live release from 1995!

Something that was thought to long been lost or forgotten, on October 20th Warner Bros. put Live at The Academy 1995 out on CD, Vinyl, and digital streaming services. Giving you some history, the music that makes this up was recorded back on November 21st of 1995. That said, the collection features that full concert from the CMJ Music Marathon, but also a stripped-down soundcheck performance for Tom Calderone’s radio station “Dare to be Different” on 92.7 FM. 

Now, looking back more deeply, this concert was hands down the biggest of the Goo Goo Dolls’ career at that juncture in time. Additionally, it is also really cool to know the soundcheck was captured and archived too; and if you are wondering, this soundcheck is mixed and recorded by legendary Producer Jerry Finn (Blink-182, The Offspring). Giving you more facts to ponder, these recordings were also the first time ever that the band recorded a live show and played an acoustic performance in front of a live audience. Talk about history!

Anyway, the entire proposition to hear these records is simply electrifying for long time fans. If you are curious what they played, for the acoustic soundcheck, you get a mix of some of the best of that early period – including “Girl Right Next To Me” and “Two Days in February.” For the full concert, you get a good mix of both Superstar Carwash and A Boy Named Goo, but also rare treats from 1989’s Jed. These highlights include “Long Way Down,” “Stop The World,” and “Slave Girl.”

In all, this live album is absolutely magnificent in any of the formats offered, but for the sake of appreciating the entire package, the CD or vinyl sets are mostly recommended. One of the best offerings of 2023 for a life-long Goo Goo Dolls fan, Cryptic Rock gives Live at The Academy 1995, 5 out of 5 stars. 

Goo Goo Dolls - Live at The Academy 1995 album cover
Goo Goo Dolls – Live at The Academy 1995 / Warner Bros (2023)

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