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Good Dog Bad Dog

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Album Review

Five years after the dissolution of their relationship with IRS Records, the Cincinnati-based lit-pop band Over the Rhine once again became a major-label presence when they signed with Back Porch, a new offshoot of Virgin Records. The group took the opportunity to refine and reissue their 1996 homespun masterpiece Good Dog Bad Dog, which had already sold 25,000 copies at concerts and through mail order despite never being officially released. Though Over the Rhine had originally planned a more expansive production for Good Dog Bad Dog, the new edition doesn't tamper with the stripped-down, primarily acoustic approach that the band settled on out of necessity. Wise choice. The depth and maturity of the songwriting and the stark beauty created by the minimal settings are the album's greatest assets. They create an aura of simplicity that lends authenticity to the themes of healing and hope that run throughout Linford Detweiler's literate lyrics, so that when Karin Bergquist sings, "We don't need a lot of money/ We'll be sleeping on the beach/ Keeping oceans within reach," it has the feeling of a mission statement. The Back Porch reissue of Good Dog Bad Dog makes only three changes (aside from the improved art direction), omitting two songs and adding one. Few fans are likely to miss "A Gospel Number," which never seemed consistent with the quality of the rest of the record. The concert favorite "Jack's Valentine" is a better song, but it's also a wise omission since the Kerouac hipness doesn't really fit in with the soulful surroundings; it belongs on a funkier album. Those tracks have been replaced with "It's Never Quite What It Seems," a beautiful breakup ballad that's a perfect fit for this album, both in its sparse arrangement and its beginnings-from-endings lyrics. Its inclusion helps makes Good Dog Bad Dog more consistent and cohesive, improving an album that already stood as Over the Rhine's finest offering.

Customer Reviews

The Whole Album. Yes.

What's better than finding an album that makes you fall in love with every song? Nothing. You should fall in love, too.

Every song is incredible.

This very well could be my favorite album of all those I have ever owned.

Perfection? Indeed.

Could an album be packed with more sadness and hope? Likely not, and if ever one were, it would replace this as my favorite record.


Formed: 1989 in Cincinnati, OH

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

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

Over the Rhine had already developed a large and intensely loyal following in their native Cincinnati, Ohio before they independently released their first two albums, Till We Have Faces (1991) and Patience (1992). Their music, which they aptly dubbed "post-nuclear, pseudo-alternative, folk-tinged art-pop," is difficult to pigeonhole. They have been compared to 10,000 Maniacs, the Innocence Mission, U2, and Shawn Colvin, but the band's personality seems to owe more to its literary influences (which...
Full Bio
Good Dog Bad Dog, Over the Rhine
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Customer Ratings

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