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The Go-Go’s – Beauty and the Beat (1981)

June 4, 2014

[Album 318/1001]220px-The_Go-Go'sBeautyandtheBeatalbumcover

My blog traffic is about to explode.

Alas, not because of a sharp increase in the quality of writing.

Not even because this is the album review, after sitting through 317 others, that the masses were eagerly awaiting.

Instead, it’s because a young man from Stratford, Ontario recently sang a similarly titled song, Beauty and a Beat.  Since I’ve tagged both that song name and the singer, I’m expecting many will inadvertently end up here.

And will they ever be disappointed that this is both the first & last time that (singer in question) Fever symptoms will be discussed on this site!

Despite the wince-inducing apostrophe in the band name, The Go-Go’s shouldn’t be dismissed as a gimmick: look, they’re all girls!  Writing songs AND playing instruments, oh my!

Instead, this debut should be appreciated for what it is: likeable, energetic, and fun.  Written & recorded by 5 musicians that also happened to share the same gender.

I think of Beauty and the Beat as a good palate cleanser.

If I read a really dense, dark, depressing book, before diving into another one like it, I enjoy fitting in a quick, light read in between.  A similar approach typically works well with movies & music and it certainly does the trick here.

This is another of those records where the biggest hit (We’ve Got The Beat) is also among its least interesting moments; Our Lips are Sealed and How Much More were two of the stronger tracks in my opinion.

Then again, mediocrity tends to lead to better sales, so it’s just as well I’m not in charge of releasing singles!

How Much More was the standout in my books for another reason: its resemblance to a great Elvis Presley tune, (Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame.

I wouldn’t dare accuse How Much More of being a rip-off as my beloved Smiths borrowed the same feel & chord pattern in Rusholme Ruffians (they later acknowledged the similarities with a clever medley on the live album Rank).

Now are The Go-Go’s in the same echelon as perhaps the biggest music icon of the 20th Century or a band once dubbed the most influential artist ever?

As the lawyers might say on my wonderful wife’s current netflix show of choice, The Good Wife, ‘Objection your Honour, leading question!’

Much like Elvis & The Smiths however, did The Go-Go’s record some commercially & critically successful pop music that holds up well, even decades later?

If we’re talking about the songs from Beauty and the Beat, no objections from me.

From → 1980s

    • yikes – which is I suppose another part of why he is not part of the regular subject matter on our blogs

      • At this point, the less said the better, or you may earn the wrath of the beliebers.

      • I’m not sure how to type it but ‘the noise people make when they shudder!’

  1. Isn’t this the band Belinda Carlisle was in? Mmmm… That should be guaranteed blog traffic right there!

    • It was – lead singer no less!

      • One of them played Joan of Arc in the first Bill & Ted movie.

      • just checked imdb (one of the great ‘rabbit hole’ websites where hours can be lost) – it was Jane Wiedlin, rhythm guitarist!

      • Yup that was it. I had trouble remembering but that’s it. I saw that before I heard of her band 🙂

      • Speaking of online searches – Mike your WTF series inspired me to check out the search terms that have led people to my site. I’m afraid they’re all disappointingly tame – the closest to risque is “Dwight Yoakam tight jeans,” but that one was searched 4x so all is not lost!

      • Well, Dwight is cool, both his music and movies, but I don’t want to see him in the tight jeans. Hopefully you won’t make your next post all about Dwight’s pants?

      • I hadn’t realized I’d put so much emphasis on his snug-fitting fashion – lesson learned!

      • Maybe the tight fitting jean crowd is one that you need to address, on the other hand.

      • I may have to start tagging ‘tight jeans’ as a social experiment – this may be an untapped niche market..

      • Tight Dwight, anyone?

    • My buddy Peter had the biggest high school crush on her.

  2. Jane Wiedlin…remember her single, “Rush Hour” that came out around 1988? I think in that video she was in a wet suit and swimming with dolphins…

    • Watching it now – and your memory is accurate, the edits are pretty quick but it looks like she also has a dress with multiple bowties in another scene!

  3. Despite the wince-inducing apostrophe in the band name, The Go-Go’s shouldn’t be dismissed as a gimmick: look, they’re all girls! Writing songs AND playing instruments, oh my!

    Instead, this debut should be appreciated for what it is: likeable, energetic, and fun. Written & recorded by 5 musicians that also happened to share the same gender.

    Nonetheless, they were constructed as a “girl group”. My standard blog-comment question: Name a female rock musician in a reasonably successful band who a) is not the singer, b) is not romantically involved with anyone in the band and c) is not part of a girl group. Note that most male rock musicians are a) not the singer, b) not romantically involved with anyone else in the band and c) not part of a boy group.

    I can think of just one example, but even that one is a bit strange.

    Sure, they exist. I recently saw The Pretty Things and the opening act was The Terrible Noises, who were actually OK, sort of a mixture of garage rock and Johnny Cash and with a huge age range among the musicians (true for the modern Pretty Things as well). Anyway, The Terrible Noises feature a female bass player who doesn’t sing, but acted pretty much like most any other quiet bass player (except that she took off her shoes and socks towards the end of the show).

    • Interesting question – Smashing Pumpkins had a female bassist D’Arcy, who left, and then Melissa Auf De Mar replaced her, I don’t remember either being involved with the other members. Pixies had a female bassist as well. I think My Bloody Valentine had 2 females? Sounds like the key to meeting the criteria is also being in the 90s with a lot of distortion!

      • If they weren’t involved with one (or more) of the boys in the band, then I guess both the Smashing Pumpkins and the Pixies would qualify as “reasonably successful”, but just barely.

        But why bassists? One would think that the (generally) smaller hands would be a disadvantage since a bass has a longer scale than a guitar, but maybe this is more than made up for by the fact that most bass parts are single-note.

        Extremely talented female musicians do exist, of course; look at the women in The Iron Maidens (all-female Iron Maiden coverband who are quite good—also a great name, which I would rank up with the Springsteen coverband Cover Me). But why hasn’t any of them played with, say, Ozzy Osbourne, the latest incarnation of a band such as Wishbone Ash or whatever?

      • Have you read Chuck Klosterman’s “on rock” – it’s funny you mention The Iron Maidens, I just read one of his essays earlier this week about this whole culture of tribute bands, including some all female ones. The Iron Maidens and Lez Zeppelin were among those mentioned!

      • According to Wikipedia, the Pixies have had at least 3 female bassists, two of them being named Kim. Hhmmm.

      • That sounds like the Dick York/Dick Sargeant actor switch on Bewitched that I learned about from Wayne’s World!

      • I haven’t read the book. From a distance, The Iron Maidens could pass for 1980s Iron Maiden (i.e. with Bruce with long hair): the hair, the clothes, the gestures, even the voice. Bruce has a high voice for a man, and the singer of the Iron Maidens has a low voice for a woman, so it’s actually the same register. From close up, there are some significant differences. 🙂 Musically, they are quite good. Have a listen (and a look):

        It’s amazing what is available on the innertubes:

      • She did her homework!
        That’s impressive

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