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Image Entertainment presents
Music in High Places: Goo Goo Dolls—Live in Alaska (2002)

"If I was sensible, I'd move here and get out of L.A."
- Robby Takac

Review By: Dan Heaton  
Published: August 21, 2003

Stars: John Rzenik, Robby Takac, Mike Malinin
Other Stars: Greg Suran
Director: Ryan Polito

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (suitable for all audiences)
Run Time: 0h:57m:53s
Release Date: March 18, 2003
UPC: 014381331028
Genre: rock

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+B+A- B-

DVD Review

Forming in 1985, guitarist/vocalist Johnny Rzeznik, bassist/vocalist Robby Takac, and drummer George Tutuska struggled in obscurity for many years. When power pop gems Hold Me Up and Superstar Car Wash failed to achieve success, the Goo Goo Dolls seriously began to doubt their chances in the early ‘90s. Their music received a smoother touch for 1995’s A Boy Named Goo, but the early singles only reached a college-radio audience. Drummer Mike Malinin replaced Tutuska, and the band continued to search for an avenue to larger audiences. Everything changed with the unbelievable achievements of Name—an emotional and clever ballad that crossed into the mainstream. An even larger success followed with Iris, another slow tune appearing on the City of Angels soundtrack. Although their sound had softened considerably from the early thrash-metal days in Buffalo, the Goo Goo Dolls have continued to deliver solid material.

Music in High Places: Goo Goo Dolls—Live in Alaska journeys to the icy landscape of one of the country’s most charming states. Playing before vast glaciers alongside smooth, crystal-clear waters, the Goo Goo Dolls deliver surprising and poignant performances. The material comes solely from their two most recent albums, which should provide a minor disappointment to fans of their early work. Seeing them play the classic acoustic number, Two Days in February, from Hold Me Up, would have been a definite highlight. Even given the abundance of recent material, this release still provides a nice collection of worthwhile acoustic tunes. Most of the less frenetic new tracks combine perfectly with the Alaskan environment.

The feature begins strongly with Black Balloon, a decent slow tune that received considerable airplay. They play before the magnificent snowy landscape of Lake George that seems almost unreal due to its stunning beauty. The next track is the emotional Acoustic #3, easily the best song on Dizzy Up the Girl, which also occurs in a pristine setting at Knik Glacier. Mixed within the ballads, the guys partake in some fun dog sledding and enjoy a helicopter ride over the mountains. The flow between music and travelogue works superbly here and reveals the high promise of the Music in High Places series.

After spending time treasuring the natural environment, the Goo Goo Dolls arrive in a few small towns and mingle with the local population. The show's highlight is definitely the Broadway performance at a local bar in Hope, Alaska. Accompanied by a harmonica player in a wheelchair, they showcase their roots in just playing basic rock 'n' roll. My only complaints about the Goo Goo Dolls in the past few years have centered on their flashier approach as a result of making it big. They roll onto the stage with ridiculously shiny purple shirts and silly light shows that distract from the musical excellence. None of that shallow exterior is prevalent during these songs. Brief interviews with Rzeznik and Takac depict them as down-to-earth guys who still are having fun playing music.

Following a scenic train journey that includes the big single Here is Gone, the band arrives in Kotzebue, a small Alaskan town that currently has days of no darkness. After speaking to some quirky radio guys, they play What a Scene to a captive audience. While it stands as the least successful tune of the disc, the beach setting keeps the moment interesting. The show closes with the gem, Slide, and then includes 16 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage. The action pulls back to reveal the tremendous work done by the crew to generate the attractive shots. These sequences make the end result even more impressive and complete an unexpectedly effective presentation.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: This feature utilizes a decent 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that nicely conveys the attractive Alaskan scenery. While the guys play in front of stunning glaciers, the bright colors provide an impressive atmosphere. There is a little grain at times and the clarity is not always pristine, but the overall effect remains very positive. I am definitely ready to pack and visit Alaska immediately.

Image Transfer Grade: B+


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Live music really smokes when given the proper DVD treatment, and this 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer is no exception. The outdoor, acoustic guitar sounds ring from the entire sound field and create an intimate feeling of being personally at the concert. The sound quality is especially high for a release of this type, which leads to a remarkable experience. A 2.0-channel digital track also provides a worthwhile presentation.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 18 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 9 cues and remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
2 Featurette(s)
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Although it lacks any major extras, this release does offer several worthwhile features. Kotzobue, Alaska ... Stranger Than Fiction provides 12 minutes of additional behind-the-scenes footage from the small, eternally light town. Much of the segment includes interviews with townspeople who discuss their very small, yet intimate area. Train Story: The Alaskan Railroad contains comments from a train employee about the charter vehicle and the surrounding scenery. This four-minute piece also showcases Alaska's majestic beauty.

The text biography combines Goo Goo Dolls history with very praiseworthy text about their latest album, Gutterflower. While mildly informative, this entry virtually ignores their earlier work and original struggles to make it big. The only other supplement gives viewers the chance to skip everything but the music. Two bonus tracks—Sympathy and Do You Know—also appear on this list. The first song occurs on the moving train, and the other tune takes place in Kotzobue. Both are solid recent tracks but offer nothing amazing.

Extras Grade: B-


Final Comments

Music in High Places: Goo Goo Dolls—Live in Alaska effectively combines stunning natural scenery with music from one of rock's most durable bands. After viewing this feature, I figured there would be plenty of other worthwhile entries in this ongoing series. Regrettably, the lineup seems composed mostly of dull artists like Sugar Ray, Collective Soul, and Alanis Morissette. With the exception of Ryan Adams and India Arie, few discs match this enjoyable feature.


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