How the once great and mighty have fallen

The Goo Goo Dolls


Warner Bros.

I was at a Johnny Cash show with my father in 1995. At the end of his set we were leaving and up walked Goo Goo Doll Robbie Takic, drunk off his ass, and asked me for a cigarette. I was younger, and this was well before I smoked in front of my parents.

“Sorry Robbie,” I replied, “I don’t smoke. You’re thinking of my roommate.” Recognizing the situation he apologized and walked off.

“Nice friend,” my father scoffed, “What does that guy do?”

At that point I could have told him Robbie played in one of the most exciting bands in Buffalo throughout the late ’80s. A band whose over-the-top live shows and to-the-point songwriting had provided a part of the soundtrack of my high school years.

In short, a once incredible band.

I didn’t, though. I told my father Robbie’s band had a top 10 single on the charts and just sold out the Memorial Auditorium. I have never begrudged bands for becoming successful and have never been elitist about my listening tastes but the Goos have always been a huge disappointment.

Gutterflower, their new release, completes a journey from promising beginning to hometown heroes to bland-sounding tools of the industry. In nearly every way I wanted to like something about this new record. To see some glimmer of the band that used to tear up tiny clubs. But there was nothing.

To be fair I gave up on them years ago when founding member and drummer George Tuskas was fired from the band. His inspired and passionate pounding provided much of the band’s fire. Of course “Iris” from the “City of Angels” soundtrack certainly was nothing to write home about, but this record is just plain bad.

In its praise, however, I would bet nearly all of this year’s high school seniors will remember these songs from their prom. And predictably, it debuted this week at number four on the Billboard charts and is all over that most vapid of all radio formats, “modern rock.”

In the words of H.L. Menken: “No man ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.”