The Go-Go’s: RRHOF Class of 2021

Trick or treat? It may be Halloween, but it’s no trick that The Go-Go’s were officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last night, marking a milestone not only in the band’s career, but also in the museum’s history as well. The Go-Go’s are the first and only female rock band to be inducted into the historic RRHOF, marking yet another first of many firsts in the fearless fivesome’s four decades of music and mischief.

The Go-Go’s remain the first and only all-female rock band to score a multi-platinum debut album written and performed by women to land atop the Billboard 200 album chart. Like Drew Barrymore stated in her induction speech at last night’s ceremony, The Go-Go’s were also my first favorite rock band/group, as well as my very first rock concert and also the unknowing recipients of my first adolescent rock star crush.

The Go-Go’s music has remained a constant in my adult life as the band’s unforgettable discography has been permanently etched into my psyche with irresistible and life altering earworms including: “Fading Fast,” “Get Up and Go,” “Turn to You” and “Apology” from the band’s albums Beauty and the Beat, Vacation, Talk Show and God Bless the Go-Go’s.

So, it is with great pride and sentimentality I say congratulations to Belinda Carlisle, Kathy Valentine, Gina Schock, Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin. Thank you for the music, the cherished memories and most of all for the endless hours of unbeknownst discussion fodder you’ve provided to me and my fellow Go-Go’s cohort (you know who you are, VG!) over the past four decades.

May your beauty and beats last an eternity.

10 Best James Bond Movie Themes

The name is Bond…James Bond. Ian Fleming’s iconic persona James Bond has no doubt left a permanent mark in cinematic history with 25 films spanning 7 decades, but the James Bond series has also produced some legendary movie themes as well. As we prepare for the premiere of the 25th 007 film, No Time to Die, here are my top ten favorite Bond themes:

10. “Die Another Day” was performed by Madonna for the 2002 Bond film. The Golden Globe and Grammy Award-nominated title song was composed by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï. The song is also infamous for being described as the worst Bond theme of all time by Elton John.

9. “The Living Daylights” was performed by Norwegian pop group A-ha for the 1987 film, which saw Timothy Dalton debut as new Bond in the first of two films. The title track was composed by the group’s Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and John Barry. This was Barry’s final score for a Bond film.

8. “All Time High” by Rita Coolidge was written by John Barry and Tim Rice for the 1983 Bond film, Octopussy and is one of the few Bond themes that doesn’t include the film’s title.

7. “Nobody Does It Better” written by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager and sung by Carly Simon from 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. The movie theme was a major worldwide hit and spent three weeks at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, earning a Grammy nomination and selling over a million copies.

6. “For Your Eyes Only” was performed by Sheena Easton, who also featured in the 1981 film’s title sequence, the first and only time a musical artist was included in a Bond film’s opening titles. The film’s title song was co-written by Bill Conti and Michael Leeson, which made Australian newcomer Easton a household name on the pop music scene.

5. “The World is Not Enough” by American rock band Garbage, served as the title song for the nineteenth James Bond film in 1999. The top ten title track was co-produced by Garbage and written by David Arnold with Don Black. The lyrics, sung by Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson, detail the film’s storyline of seduction and global domination.

4. “GoldenEye” performed by Tina Turner, was the title song for the 1995 blockbuster, which was the first of four Bond films starring Pierce Brosnan as the ultimate spy. The movie’s ostentatious theme was composed by Bono and the Edge from U2.

3. “A View to a Kill” performed by Duran Duran was the theme to the 1985 movie, which was Roger Moore’s final Bond film. The title song became a number one hit for Simon Le Bon and company, which was co-written by Duran Duran and John Barry.

2. “Skyfall” was the title theme for the twenty-third James Bond film of the same name. The title song was performed by Adele and was nominated for and won an Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards ceremony in 2013 for Best Original Song. The title song was written by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth.

1. “Live and Let Die” was the title track performed by Paul McCartney and Wings for the 1973 film of the same name. Live and Let Die introduced the world to Roger Moore with his silver screen debut as the series’ renowned character. “Live and Let Die” reached number one on the pop charts and was the most successful Bond theme at the time of its release.

Xanadu: A Place Where Few Dared to Go

© 1980 Universal Pictures

© 1980 Universal Pictures

“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan, a stately pleasure-dome decree: Where Alph the sacred river ran, through caverns measureless to man, down to a sunless sea.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

On August 8, 1980 the musical fantasy Xanadu starring Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly and Michael Beck opened in theatres nationwide. All summer long, I was filled with anxious anticipation for Olivia Newton-John’s feature film follow-up to the mega-hit Grease. While I enjoyed a good movie, my attention was mostly focused on the musical soundtrack of the upcoming film, which I’d read was to feature an entire side of ONJ tunes, plus half an album’s worth of tracks by Electric Light Orchestra. By this time, I’d long been an Olivia fan, but now I was at the height of my fandom for ELO. Therefore, the Xanadu soundtrack was a highly coveted treasure chest of jewels by two of my favorite artists.

I remember watching an episode of the Midnight Special hosted by ONJ, that featured her performing her current hit single “Magic” (the lead-off track from the soundtrack), as well as a mesmerizing rendition of the yet to be released ballad “Suspended in Time” (now my all-time favorite ONJ track), as well as showing an enticing clip of Xanadu. After seeing that, I was totally captivated. [Read Full Feature]

Has it really been 39 years since the Go-Go’s ‘Vacation’?!

© 1982 IRS Records

My how time flies when you’re having fun. With the Go-Go’s recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the recent re-release of the band’s fourth album, I must admit I’ve been reliving Belinda Carlisle and gang’s heyday a bit. It was just brought to my attention that it has been almost four decades since the Go-Go’s sophomore effort was released smack dab in the middle of the summer way back in 1992. If only I could somehow describe my excitement for this musical event of my youth. It seems like only yesterday when…

After a six-week run atop Billboard’s 200 album chart with the multi-platinum debut album Beauty and the Beat, all-girl rock group the Go-Go’s hurriedly released the follow-up sophomore effort, Vacation. Echoes of previous singles “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” could still be heard across radio airwaves when “Vacation” became the band’s third hit single in the summer of ’82. The bubbly title track was the first-ever cassette single and was accompanied by its vivid and playful music video, which revealed the band members hamming it up while pretending to be highly skilled water skiers.

For me, that entire summer revolved around the Go-Go’s, from joining the band’s fan club, scouring magazine stands for any glimpse of Belinda and company, to recurrent spins of Beauty and the Beat as I counted down the days anticipating the arrival of Vacation. Alas, the day finally arrived when my eyes unexpectedly gazed upon the album’s totally kitschy cover art by Grammy-winning designer Mick Haggerty, which seemed to be waving at me from the record store’s new release rack. The ride home from the mall was an agonizing eternity as I shuddered with excitement.

[Read Full Article Here]

Remembering Michael Jackson 1958 – 2009

Has it really been 12 years? I find it unconceivable that the legendary Michael Jackson passed away over a decade ago. I find myself becoming more sentimentally reminiscent as the years add up, especially as time seems to rapidly increase with each fleeting birthday.

Recently, I found myself mining the musical memories of my youth, when suddenly my attention span focused upon the Jackson 5. Some of my most distinct childhood recollections involve Michael Jackson. No, I’m not talking about the reclusive, oddly behaved and disfigured scandalous celebrity that many remember. Instead, I’m recalling the Motown-era’s magnificent entertainer whose records I cut off of cereal boxes and whom I watched weekly on Saturday morning cartoons. That’s my Michael Jackson.

Sure, as the years progressed, I became a fan of The Jacksons and solo Michael, but my most vivid thoughts of Michael Jackson are of the earliest years of his career. Jackson’s Motown canon – solo and with his brothers – were staples on my turntable, radio and television with the Jacksons’ various appearances on variety shows and TV specials during my adolescent formative years. That’s the Michael Jackson I remember most fondly and find myself missing the most.

Michael Jackson caught my attention again many years later with his outstanding Off the Wall album and his watershed epic, Thriller. Unfortunately, after those two mythical records, things began to get very strange and out of control for the legendary, but often misunderstood artist.   

Rest in peace upon the wings of a dove Michael. May your music last for all time.

God Bless the Go-Go’s: Fabulous fivesome’s fourth studio album reissued

The trailblazing Go-Go’s have not only been selected for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but also see the reissue of the totally awesome, but criminally overlooked God Bless the Go-Go’s.

Ironically rereleased two days after the RRHOF induction announcement, the band’s fourth studio album finally makes its vinyl LP debut, in addition to a deluxe edition CD with new artwork and the inclusion of two exceptional bonus tracks: “King of Confusion” and “I Think I Need Sleep.”

Although seventeen years separate the Go-Gos’ third and fourth releases, God Bless the Go-Go’s remarkably picks up right where Talk Show left off in 1984. In fact, the piano intro of “Talking Myself Down” subtly but undoubtedly recalls echoes of previous hit “Head Over Heels.” Just as the ladies’ 1980’s output demonstrated growth and proficiency with each release, God Bless the Go-Go’s not only continued that trend, but also became a worthy and vital entry into the band’s musical legacy. [Read full review here]

Smart Objects Live Stream and Vinyl Preorder

Tonight’s the night! Smart Objects will be livestreaming a 30-minute show on May 1st at 8:00 PM CDT over at StageIt’s 5 Spot. You can find ticket info and purchase tix here. Personally, I can’t wait to see they’ve cooked up for everyone.

Nashville’s indie rock band may currently be Music City’s best kept secret, but that could be changing soon. The band’s dynamic debut album is getting its first physical release (finally!) on vinyl and you can preorder your copy here at this link now!

In case you missed the digital release of Smart Objects’ mindboggling debut during last year’s pandemic, you can rectify that now by reading my Q&A with the band’s mastermind, Benjamin Harper here, as well as downloading a copy now at Bandcamp or check it out on various streaming platforms everywhere: Apple Music, Amazon Music or Spotify.

Don’t miss out on your chance to own this intelligent and vital album on vinyl LP. Believe me, you will want this in your collection.

Smart Objects Vinyl Preorder and Livestream

Music people unite! Nashville’s indie rock band may currently be Music City’s best kept secret, but that could be changing soon. The band’s dynamic debut album is getting its first physical release (finally!) on limited edition white vinyl and you can preorder your copy here at this link now!

In case you missed the digital release of Smart Objects’ mindboggling debut during last year’s pandemic, you can rectify that now by reading my Q&A with the band’s mastermind, Benjamin Harper here, as well as downloading a copy now at Bandcamp or check it out on various streaming platforms everywhere: Apple Music, Amazon Music or Spotify.

Also, Smart Objects will be livestreaming a 30-minute show on May 1st at 8:00 PM CST over at StageIt’s 5 Spot. You can find ticket info and purchase tix here. Personally, I can’t wait to see they’ve cooked up for everyone.

Don’t miss out on your chance to own this intelligent and vital album on vinyl LP. Believe me, you will want this in your collection.

Prince: ‘Welcome 2 America’

Prolific superstar and artist extraordinaire Prince was found unconscious in his home on Thursday, April 21, 2016. I’ve now unwillingly committed those words to print, but although it’s been days since I first heard the news, I’m still not wanting to believe it’s true. I keep thinking it can’t be real. How can a seemingly indestructible tour de force leave this mortal world in such a shocking and untimely manner?

It’s now been five years since Prince Rogers Nelson left us to become part of the eternal ether. In the time that’s passed, mourning has turned into a celebration of his remarkable talent that still continues to gift us with treasures hidden away within Prince’s legendary vault of music.

The Prince estate has done a commendable job of bringing to light newly discovered gems with the deluxe releases of 1999, Sign O’ the Times, and now the soon to be released Welcome 2 America. Recorded spring of 2010, Welcome 2 America encompasses Prince’s ideals for a fluctuating society, craftily prophesizing political division and racial injustice.

Welcome 2 America features collaborations with Tal Wilkenfeld, Chris Coleman, Jason Agel, and New Power Generation singers Shelby J, Liv Warfield, and Elisa Fiorillo. The deluxe edition includes the double LP and CD versions of the album, alongside a previously unreleased Blu-Ray of Prince’s full April 28, 2011 performance at the Forum in Los Angeles. The show contains 24 tracks, from his biggest hits to fan favorites and rare cover versions. Additionally, the deluxe edition features a 32-page 12×12 book, exclusive poster housed within a gold embossed package. Welcome 2 America will be released on July 30th, giving us yet another reason to celebrate the greatness of Prince.

Underrated Albums: Go-Gos’ ‘Talk Show’

©2021 Popmartzoo

It’s funny how a change of season and a cyclical change in the weather can bring memories rushing back. In March 1984, the Go-Go’s released the third and final album of the band’s ‘80s peak popularity. Now, 37-years later, the trailblazing ladies have been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, making it the ideal time to revisit the totally awesome, but criminally overlooked Talk Show.

Talk Show hails from the heydays of when new wave and MTV ruled, all the way back to the early spring of 1984, but I can still remember it like it was yesterday. I achingly recall how the previous year had been sheer agony for myself and fellow Go-Go’s fanatics, as Belinda, Jane, Charlotte, Kathy and Gina seemed to all but disappear from the 80’s music scene, despite making a big splash with their two important and impactful releases; “Vacation” and Beauty and the Beat, both of which I have discussed previously (those can be found by clicking on the abovementioned album titles). As 1983 slowly progressed, I frantically scoured Rolling Stone and Billboard, as well as my local magazine stands for any scrap or morsel about my favorite band, but only rare dribbles were found few and far between for the entirety of that year.

When word finally arrived that the Go-Go’s were across the pond in England recording the eagerly awaited third album with Martin Rushent, I could barely contain my excitement. This thrilling news was soon followed by an unwanted update that the new album had been delayed due to Charlotte Caffey’s ailment with carpal tunnel syndrome. Reading this unwelcomed tidbit quickly dashed my hopes for new music arriving anytime in the immediate future. Luckily, after waiting out an extended absence that felt like an eternity, the Go-Go’s eventually returned to the spotlight in March of 1984 with an astoundingly robust and electrifying new collection of songs. My appetite was first whetted with Talk Show’s lead-off hit single “Head Over Heels,” accompanied by its neon-tinged music video, which brightly signaled the return of the Go-Go’s, while gratifying my ears, albeit temporarily. While wearing the grooves off my “Head Over Heels” 45 rpm record and its B-side, “Good for Gone,” I began frantically calling my local record stores daily to find out when I would be getting my hands on that elusive third album. Fortunately, my nearly two-years of suffering for a new Go-Go’s album was rewarded on March 19, 1984 with a fantastic collection of ten prodigious songs. I can still remember my overpowering exhilaration as I raced home from my local record shop to play my newly acquired LP.

As soon as I placed the needle into the groove, my ears were filled with the opening piano riffs of “Head Over Heels,” which I’d already committed to memory during the month-long countdown to the full-length album. Then, I was entranced by the unexpected power of “Turn to You,” which still remains as my all-time favorite Go-Go’s track. As the record progressed, I was amazed by how much I loved each and every track; from the hypnotic synth intro of “You Thought,” the exquisite harmonies of “Beneath the Blue Sky” and the beautiful melancholia of “Forget That Day.” Side one was all killer, no filler. I couldn’t have been happier.

Shaking with excitement, I quickly flipped the record over and continued to be blown away by the guitar drenched “I’m the Only One,” the fiery “Capture the Light,” the dramatic “I’m With You” and the bouncy, hook-laden “Yes or No.” Talk Show profusely demonstrated newfound growth and maturity in musicianship, lyrical content, plus a noticeable new confidence in Carlisle’s phrasing and vocal delivery.

Legendary producer Martin Rushent (The Human League, The Stranglers) amped up the guitar crunch and added subtle sprinkles of piano and synths, consciously choosing to veer away from the girl group echoes of Richard Gottehrer’s previous album productions, which added a much-needed renewal to the Go-Go’s sound. Bassist Kathy Valentine handled the lion’s share of lead guitar licks due to Caffey’s battle with carpal tunnel, which added a noticeable frenetic ferocity throughout the album’s 10 tracks. Talk Show’s material was masterfully accentuated by Gina Schock’s unyielding and metronomic pounding of the drums, undeniably proving that Schock indeed, still had the beat.

Unfortunately, the album’s accompanying Prime Time Tour failed to live up to expectations. I caught two shows during Talk Show’s tour cycle and each performance confirmed the first public signs of trouble in paradise. Not only was it glaringly obvious the band members were going through the motions or “phoning it in” on stage, but also painfully apparent they were not thrilled to be spending time in each other’s company. Shortly after the tour’s completion, Jane Wiedlin announced she was leaving the Go-Go’s to pursue a solo career. This was hardly surprising to me as I’d witnessed her unhappiness on tour as she sat down and looked pouty at both of the shows I attended during performances of “Forget That Day.” This song allegedly became a specific point of contention within the band. Written by Wiedlin, “Forget That Day” seemed to create a sore spot between Wiedlin and Carlisle as Wiedlin stated she’d originally wanted to sing lead vocals on the track, but was overruled by Carlisle and the other band members.

Sadly, Talk Show proved to be the female fivesome’s final full-length offering for 17 years until Belinda Carlisle and company reunited for 2001’s God Bless the Go-Go’s. In the interim, it seemed that the Go-Go’s were destined to fulfill the all too familiar rock cliché of burning out before fading away. After Talk Show, the band members’ demons were eventually revealed on an unflattering episode of VH-1’s Behind the Music. It seemed as if the band members were hell bent on fulfilling the prophetic declaration of becoming the “catty girls, dreamers, and whores” Caffey and Wiedlin described in “This Town” on the band’s debut album Beauty and the Beat, instead of exercising the option to keep sealed lips. However, there are no audible signs anywhere to be found when listening to Talk Show. Listeners would be hard pressed to hear any evidence of an imploding rock band’s behind the scenes drama, infighting, or substance abuse issues. Perhaps the only hint of discord exists solely on the album’s front cover, as the separate compartmentalization of each band member unintentionally conveyed the group’s disjointed state of existence?

No matter the surrounding circumstances of the time, the female fivesome’s third studio effort still sounds as effervescent as an “uncorked bottle of cold champagne,” as Christopher Connelly described it in Rolling Stone’s original 4-star album review in 1984. Although the Go-Go’s will never be considered prolific, thankfully they managed to give us some superlative music that still manages to transcend time.