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]

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.

The Go-Go’s Nominated to Be Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

© 1983 I.R.S. Records/GGIFC

The Go-Go’s have hit another milestone by being nominated to become members of the historic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I must confess this news excites my youthful heart as The Go-Go’s were not only my first favorite band, but also my very first rock concert and front row experience.

With masterfully crafted earworms such as: “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Vacation,” “Head Over Heels” and “We Got the Beat,” the female fivesome made history with the historic debut album, Beauty and the Beat, which sat perched atop the Billboard 200 album chart for six consecutive weeks and selling over two million copies. The double platinum Beauty and the Beat is the first and only album by an all-female rock band to achieve this monumentally historic feat, which has yet to be repeated in the four decades since.

Although the band broke up in 1984, they reunited in 1990 and went on to record a powerful fourth album in 2001 (God Bless the Go-Go’s), which featured Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong on the lead-off single “Unforgiven.” The Go-Go’s have continued to tour in the following years and recorded and released a new track, “Club Zero” in 2020, as well as the critically acclaimed documentary about the band lensed by History of the Eagles director Allison Ellwood.

A long overdue oversight (eloquently echoed by a recent op-ed piece in Billboard by James Duke Mason) has now been rectified and an anticipatory congratulations is extended to Belinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine and Jane Wiedlin. May the magical mystical power of Apollo be bestowed upon the most successful all female rock band of all time.

To cast your vote for the RRHOF 2021 nominees click here

To read more about my obsessive fandom click the titled links below:

Beauty and the Beat

Vacation

Talk Show

Go-Go’s ‘Talk Show’: Something to Talk About

Exactly 35 years ago this week, my entire world revolved around awaiting the release of the Go-Go’s third album, Talk Show. Therefore, in celebration of this milestone, I’ve decided to pluck it from obscurity and revisit its virtues for posterity.

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).

Producer Martin Rushent 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. [Read full tribute here]

Go-Go’s: ‘Beauty and the Beat’ (30th Anniversary Edition)

It was during the days of big hair, John Hughes movies, and hanging out at the mall when five feisty beauties called the Go-Go’s became America’s sweethearts. Fronted by lead singer Belinda Carlisle and anchored by key songwriters Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey, their debut album was an important breakthrough for women in music. The multi-platinum Beauty and the Beat was the first number one album written and performed by an all-female group. It’s now been remastered and expanded into a 2-disc set (and pink vinyl) to celebrate its 30th anniversary.

Beauty and the Beat, one of the 1980s cornerstone albums of American new wave, was both groundbreaking and inspired. Yielding the hits “Our Lips Are Sealed’ and “We Got The Beat,” this seminal recording has never sounded better than here on this new remaster, which manages to breathe new life into these songs no matter how many times you’ve listened to them.

“Can you hear them/They talk about us/Telling lies, well that’s no surprise,” sang Carlisle in “Our Lips Are Sealed,” which could be heard blasting from every car stereo during the summer of 1981. That breakthrough hit was soon followed up by “We Got The Beat,” which became the group’s most successful song and spent three weeks at number two on the U.S. hot 100. The classic 80s anthem’s lyrics “See the kids just getting out of school/They can’t wait to hang out and be cool,” left an indelible impression on pop culture.

The Go-Go’s magic relied on the masterful blending of upbeat melodies, catchy hooks, and background harmonies layered upon sad lyrics, while delivered with undeniable attitude. “Get dressed up and messed up/Blow our cares away/We rule the streets tonite/Until the morning light,” declares Carlisle with energetic angst during the frenetic “Tonite.” Carlisle gets right into your face as she sings “Change the lines that were said before/We’re all dreamers, we’re all whores/This town is our town, it is so glamorous/Bet you’d live here if you could and be one of us,” with an undeniable aggressiveness during the Hollywood ode “This Town.”

This newly released 2-disc set gives fans a chance to hear both sides of the group: the raw energy and post-punk edginess of their live performances never captured on their studio recordings, as well as the smoothed out pop-gloss sound most associated with the band. Disc one is comprised of the full remastered album, while the second disc contains a previously unreleased live concert from 1981. The live disc includes songs that have never appeared on any Go-Go’s album, in addition to an early version of the hit single “Vacation,” complete with alternate lyrics that differ greatly from the well-known recorded version.

The anniversary edition of Beauty and the Beat shows this album still holds up surprisingly well thirty years later, which is a testament to the energetic spirit captured in this musical zeitgeist of the 80s. Unfortunately, it also serves as a reminder that the Go-Go’s were never able to equal or surpass the success of this landmark debut with the band’s subsequent releases. Their beauty may have faded over the years, but their beat still sounds almost as timeless today on this seminal 80s album as it did thirty years ago.

© 2011 ForASong Media, LLC