Among the icy peaks of Alaska lives…the Goo Goo Dolls!
Super rock group Goo Goo Dolls (featuring lead singer/guitarist John Rzeznik, bassist Robby Takac, drum man Mike Malinin, and guitarist Greg Suran) have sold millions of records. Their hits include the rocker "Slide," the contemplative "Name," and "I'm Still Here" from the Disney film Treasure Planet, among many others. In Goo Goo Dolls: Live in Alaska, Rzeznik and his pals head to the beautifully vibrant state of Alaska to perform some of their most popular chart toppers. Along the way they also find themselves having a grand ol' time among the snow dogs, sleds, and mountain top breweries. Fans will not only get some of the Goo Goo Dolls' greatest hits, but also watch them at work and play in this semi-documentary as it follows the Dolls from song to song, landscape to landscape. The songs featured on this disc are as follows:
• Black Balloon
While perusing in Tower Records one day I saw one of these "Music In High Places" discs by Shawn Colvin (who I'm a big fan of). I haven't picked it up yet, though after watching Goo Goo Dolls: Live in Alaska, I'm mighty tempted. These are unique concert discs as they don't just focus on the band playing their standards—intercut with their songs are interviews with the band talking about their lives and what it's like being in Alaska, as well as footage of them cutting loose in various spots along the way (I was especially entertained watching a rock star slide around in mud with little kids). Of course, like most music discs, your enjoyment of this "film" will depend entirely on how much you enjoy the Goo Goo Dolls music. Personally, I think they're pretty catchy—songs like Black Balloon and Here is Gone are bouncy, fun tunes that (thankfully) don't smack of teenie bopper, sugar encrusted pop. All of these songs are well performed and vary from the original album versions—most are done acoustically and sound relatively raw (this is a good thing). Apparently this DVD series was a television show, most notable in the various breaks in the program that appear to have been used for commercials. I haven't caught it yet on the boob tube, but once I get cable I may be up for a scheduled viewing. Fans of the Goo Goo Dolls will get a kick out of seeing the group perform their biggest songs live, as well as witness them act like everyday folks (no snit fits over a loss of red M&Ms) in the beautiful wilderness of Alaska.
Goo Goo Dolls: Live in Alaska is presented in, surprisingly, 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. Image has gone all out and enhanced this performance piece for 16x9 TVs, and I say kudos to them! Though the image sometimes retains a rough look (due to the fact that much of it appears to have been shot on videotape), overall this transfer looks fine and is very apt for the performance it's supporting. The soundtrack is presented in three options: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround, DTS 5.1 Surround, and Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, all in English. Both the Dolby 5.1 track and the DTS mix are in fine form. The biggest boost, of course, comes during the musical performances. All of the speakers were engaged and sounded, fittingly, slightly rough around the edges. All aspects of mix were generally clear of any excessive hiss or distortion. No subtitles are available on this disc.
Not only has Image done a nice job on the video and audio portions of this disc, but they've also included a few fine extra features for Goo Goo-heads everywhere. The best of these is a list of songs from the film, as well as a few other tracks, presented as "just the music." In other words, no talking or yammering on and on by the band—just the performances by the band set to the scenery of Alaska. Two featurettes—"Kotzebue, Alaska: Stranger Than Fiction" and "Train Story: The Alaskan Railroad"—give fans a little more insight into the band's exploration of the Alaskan territory, and their ride on one darn cool train. Finally there is a fairly short text biography on the band.
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