Thursday, May 31, 2007

Review: The Go-Gos - God Bless the Go-Gos

Label: Beyond Records

Released: May 15, 2001

With very few exceptions, reunion albums are not essential listening. The best we can hope for is a solid album that at least isn't an embarrassment. In 2001, the Go-Gos released their first studio album in 17 years. Considering such a long layoff and that their first go round was short and inconsistent (one very good album and two spotty ones in four years), I can't imagine anyone held out much hope for God Bless the Go-Gos. However, it did get good reviews at the time and I think that is more likely due to it exceeding expectations than actually being that good.

First, don't expect this to be on par with 1981's Beauty and the Beat. The youthful energy and punk rock edge of that album is hard to reproduce at this stage of the game, especially considering that it was already largely gone a year later when they released the inconsistent Vacation album, which along with 1984's Talk Show had only a few good songs and a lot of filler. What God Bless... gives us though is a largely above average set of songs with only a slight lull through the middle. The songs are solid, mixing upbeat pop with slower ballads and the sound is very much the Go-Gos with only a touch of 90s alt rock influence in places. The Go-Gos successfully walk the line between losing their identity and merely recreating their past and that alone makes this one of the better reunion albums out there. Still, there is absolutely nothing essential about it, so this is only for those who wish for more quantity in the Go-Gos' catalog. If you're looking for quality, Beauty and the Beat is still the way to go. However, if you're going to buy a second Go-Gos album, this should edge out both Vacation and Talk Show.

Rating: 6/10

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Blogger Layla (aka Barbara) said...

I just never did "have the beat" for the Go-Go's but I will be seeing the Bangles open for Heart this summer...I don't know if I like them either.

Good review :)

12:56 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

I have two Go-Go's albums that I probably got from you. I have not quite gotten around to listening them yet. I do remember that one of them was in the Clue movie I think.

7:13 AM  
Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

I have Beauty and the Beat and Talk Show and I got Talk Show because I was infatuated by that hammering beat of "Head Over Heels," and thought the rest of the album had to match up. Nuh uh. It's a merely average album. Beauty is definitely their claim to fame.

11:23 PM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

Barbara - I think you have to have some affinity for punk to really love the Go-Gos (or at least their first and best album). The Bangles get lumped in with the Go-Gos a lot, because they were contempraries and both all-female groups. While they both came out of the LA punk scene to some extent, the Bangles sound was more jangley, 60s influenced stuff than punk. They were actually part of the Paisley Underground in the early 80s. However, that only lasted one EP and one LP. Then they released Different Light which is pure pop. At that point, they relied on outside songwriters, but they were largely top-notch like Prince and Jules Shear. Still, it is a little disconcerting that they abandoned their sound and control over the writing. Their first album (All Over the Place) is very good, but not nearly as slick as Different Light and Everything. I still like Different Light, but it's a guilty pleasure whereas All Over the Place is a credible album.

Mark - I don't think you'd be too fond of the Go-Gos since you aren't a big fan of either punk or pop. However, if you have Beauty and the Beat, it never hurts to give it a spin and see. I like that album a lot.

Ray - "Head Over Heels" is a good song, but you're right about the rest of the album. Vacation is the same way. The title track and "Beatnik Beach" are really good, but the rest doesn't measure up. The last album is more consistent, but probably never reaches the heights of the handful of good songs on Vacation or Talk Show and it certainly pales in comparison to Beauty and the Beat.

3:21 AM  
Blogger Layla (aka Barbara) said...

The Go-Gos were considered Punk? that's weird. I just remember being annoyed by their videos on MTV :)

8:37 PM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

Barbara - The Go-Gos weren't considered punk per se, but some of them did come out of the LA punk scene. Belinda Carlisle was an original member of the Germs! I have a recording of the Germs' first show (in 1977) and Belinda Carlisle introduces them (she had already left). While the Go-Gos may not be a punk band, punk's influence is quite clear on the first album. I really like the Go-Gos back then, but I think I actually like them more now. Beauty and the Beat held up very well.

11:54 PM  

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