God Bless The Go-Go's
(Beyond Records)

THE GO-GO'S: God Bless The Go-Go's (Beyond Records)"Hello world, we're here again!" chime The Go-Go's on the first track, "La La Land" off of their recent release God Bless The Go-Go's. Although the album marks the first all new material return of the ladies in fifteen years, it's like they never left. Picking up right where they left off, the new collection of songs prove that while The Go-Go's themselves may have aged, their music has not.

Initially formed as a punk band in the late 70's, the girls--lead vocalist Belinda Carlisle, bassist Kathy Valentine, guitarists Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey, and drummer Gina Schock--quickly realized that at the heart of their punk influences was a pure pop voice dying to get out. A few years and dye jobs later, the Go-Go's the world would come to know and love were born. Writing and performing tunes that were easy enough to listen to and even easier to take for granted, the band scored hit after hit for almost five years before calling it quits.

After the band split in 1985, Carlisle scored solo hits with "Mad About You" and "Heaven is a Place on Earth." Caffey formed a new band called The Graces with then-unknown Meredith Brooks, and Wiedlin achieved minor success with her underrated, late 80's pop tune, "Rush Hour." Although a return to their Go-Go roots proved to be as painful as it was inevitable, a return to the reign of chick rock seems possible with their new material.

The songs on God Bless The Go-Go's stick with the formula that once made the band a success. They still write exuberant lyrics, based upon grittier rather than sunnier experiences. The first glimpse at the 'new' Go-Go's was the single, "Unforgiven." Co-written by Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong, the song has a definite 80's feel to it. In fact, most of the record brings back images of what girl rock stood for long before the likes of the Spice Girls. "Apology" is a slower song; perceived either as a tale of heartbreak, or an ode to the mending of fences between group members.

The uniquely titled "Vision of Nowness" was inspired by the true story of what Sammy Davis Jr. said about an awestruck Carlisle upon a chance meeting. The catchy "Throw Me a Curve" serves as the album's social commentary on the pressure in today's society for women to be thin. Finally, "Daisy Chain," tells the bittersweet tale of the rise and fall of the group--all in less than four minutes. The decidedly edgier side of the Go-Go's is explored on tracks like "Automatic Rainy Day", "Kissing Asphalt", and "the Veruca Salt-esque "Sonic Superslide."

Remarkably, since the band's first go around, the land of female dominated pop bands remains fairly barren. The talent behind The Go-Go's seem to have mixed feelings about the shaky growth of all girl groups, as well as the stigma attached to being an 80's novelty act. The recent 80's revival however just might be what gets these talented ladies a chance to prove that they still have the beat.

© 2001 Janet Branagan

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