Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Go-Go's--We Got the Beat (1982)

     The history of girl groups on the pop/rock charts is woefully low compared to solo artists. There was a burst of activity in the early 60's, as groups like The Shrielles, The Ronettes, The Cookies under the producing hand of Phil Spector were all over the charts. Motown also had early success with groups like Martha & the Vandellas and of course, The Supremes. As the the rock and roll era morphed into the modern rock era, most groups involving all women were left behind. The early 70's brought the group Fanny and guitarist Suzy Quatro began to push the doors open, with The Runaways upping the ante in the latter part of the decade. (You are welcome to add the Wilson sisters and Heart into this discussion, but because the group has always had men in it, am not including them in this discussion). The Go-Go's seemed to split the difference between the 70's rock sound, with a 60's girl group sensibility.
     They were formed in Los Angeles in 1978 and consisted of Belinda Carlisle (vocals), Jane Wiedlin (guitar), Margot Olavarria (bass), and Elissa Bello (drums). They began life as a west coast punk band, in fact for a brief time Carlisle was a member of the seminal LA punk band, The Germs, but she contracted a case of mono and left the band before playing a gig. Charlotte Caffey was added late in 78, and Gina Schock replaced Bello in 1979. Those changes also brought a change from straight up punk to a more power pop sound. In 1980 Olavarria left the band and replaced by Kathy Valentine.
     They signed with I.R.S. Records in 1981, and their first album Beauty and the Beat, became a huge (and totally unexpected) hit. The first single, "Our Lips Our Sealed" went to number 20, but it was this song, written by Caffey, and recorded by the band originally in 1980 and released by Stiff Records in the UK that took off into the top 5. The album was hailed as a great new wave album that in reflection had much more to do with 70's style power pop, than any new wave artists. The next few years saw more hits, but the effects of tensions within the group, not to mention their ability to party just as hard as their male counterparts caused the output to suffer. All of the women have gone on to alternate between touring as a group, and solo projects, with Carlisle having the most success on the charts. If you are interested in knowing more about the history of girl groups, a great resource can be found here:  


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