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Album Review

A little over a year after the fall 1991 release of Matthew Sweet's third album, Girlfriend, his label, Zoo, issued the promo-only Goodfriend — roughly an alternate version of the album containing acoustic versions, BBC sessions, and live versions of nine of the record's 15 songs, rounded out by "Someone to Pull the Trigger," which would show up later on 1993's Altered Beast, covers of Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer" and John Lennon's "Isolation," plus a second version of "Girlfriend." This was a release for hardcore fans of either Sweet or Girlfriend, and there were a lot of fans in 1992 as Girlfriend was an alt-rock hit that established Matthew Sweet as one of the power pop icons of the '90s. And Goodfriend was different enough from Girlfriend to be worth seeking out — the BBC version of "Girlfriend" was loose, lazy, and bluesy, "Divine Intervention" was reworked to be driven by a sprightly CSNY-styled acoustic riff, "Does She Talk" sounded even nastier in concert, "Winona" became sweeter in its acoustic version, and the covers laid bare the influence of both Young and Lennon on the record. All good stuff, all worth hearing, and it made Goodfriend a desirable, valuable item in the days before homemade CD-Rs or digital downloads, and it remained a rather expensive collector's item until Legacy's deluxe double-disc reissue of Girlfriend on the album's 15th anniversary. The second disc in this reissue is naturally Goodfriend and it still makes an excellent companion to the album, particularly for those who love the original album and haven't managed to find the promo-only release. Another nice addition are the three demos added to the end of the original album: "Good Friend," a rough version of the title track that includes a bluesy mid-song breakdown, "Superdeformed" (which would show up in its finished version on the No Alternative album and the Son of Altered Beast EP), and "Teenage Female," a typically good Sweet pop tune about a groupie. All three of these songs originally appeared on the 1992 CD single for "Girlfriend" — subtitled "The Superdeformed CD" — so chances are, anybody who cared enough to get Goodfriend also has these, making this reissue not too enticing to collectors, since it doesn't have anything they haven't heard before (although the remastering does mean that it sounds better than ever). But for big Matthew Sweet fans who didn't buy all the CD singles or promo discs, this is a must-have: he has yet to make an album better than Girlfriend, and all the alternate versions, demos, and live takes here not only prove the strength of the material, but illustrate that Sweet was at a peak as a musician during this era, since the live material is as nearly as compelling as the classic record. Add to that excellent liner notes by Bud Scoppa, a nice package, and good remastered sound, and this is one of the stronger entries in Legacy's ongoing Legacy Edition two-disc reissue series.


Born: 06 October 1964 in Lincoln, NE

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

After spending the '80s as an unappreciated jangle pop guitarist with Oh-OK and Lloyd Cole, as well as a solo artist, Matthew Sweet emerged in 1991 as the leading figure of the American power pop revival. Like his British counterparts Teenage Fanclub, Sweet adhered to traditional songcraft, yet subverted the form by adding noisy post-punk guitar and flourishes of country-rock, resulting in an amalgam of the Beatles, Big Star, R.E.M., and Neil Young. Recorded with guitarists Richard Lloyd and Robert...
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