Hold Me Up
The Goos' third album was in part seen as their commercial step up, though in fact the real breakthrough didn't come along for a few more years. It's little surprise why there was more of a push for this album, though. If it wasn't as powerfully distinct as Nirvana's Nevermind, Hold Me Up is as much a product of '80s underground punk and indie (and dollops of bands like Cheap Trick) as its more famous counterpart. The Replacements Jr. tag that dogged the Goos in early years still has a connection here, unquestionably. But considering at that point Paul Westerberg was starting down his road toward tasteful irrelevance, Hold Me Up is the perfect stand-in for those who wanted a little more energy with their catchy but emotional rock. If anything, Rzeznik's agreeably ragged and certainly Westerberg-inspired vocals start to really come into their own even more than before, now a great contrast to Takac's amiable brattishness. The latter can have his own impact, though -- check out the opening "Laughing" or "So Outta Line," both hyperactive numbers with heart. There's no question Rzeznik steals the show with the album's lead single -- "There You Are," with a brilliant, descending lead guitar figure and a sprawling, sloppy/tight performance that's pure gold. Throughout the album, all the bandmembers sound just great, peeling off some wonderfully catchy numbers one after another -- "Just the Way You Are," "Hey," the fine instrumental "Kevin's Song," and the acoustic pointer to the future, the concluding, wistful "Two Days in February." In keeping with past guest appearances, the Incredible Lance Diamond takes an amazing lead vocal turn on a wonderful cover of Prince's "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man," while Rzeznik himself burns down the house on a triumphant rip through the Plimsouls' "A Million Miles Away."