Talk Show

The Go-Go's

I.R.S., 1984

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


Produced by Martin Rushent, Talk Show is one of those albums where the great packaging was nearly as important as the music. You gotta love the multi-colored cover and video for “Head Over Heels,” not to mention the many terrific photos of each of the girls. 

What is interesting is that there is no group photo of the band -- perhaps a hint that all was not well in Go-Go Land at that point in time. When Talk Show failed to go platinum, the writing was on the wall. The Go-Go’s were about to be Gone-Gone.

Only “Head Over Heels” made it into the Top 20, so it’s fair to say that it is the best song to be found on the album. Hand claps and electric piano solo included, it’s as bouncy as a rubber band and rockin’ as all get-out. The rollicking second single, “Turn To You,” also holds up fairly well, made even more memorable by its gender-bending video.  my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Releasing “Yes Or No” was a mistake, however, even if it was co-written by brothers Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks fame. The good thing about Talk Show is that it has a meatier sound than their flat-sounding previous release Vacation, did.  The casualty, unfortunately, was Belinda Carlisle.  Her vocal is simply overwhelmed by the heavy sounding guitars, especially Kathy Valentine’s bass. 

Certainly, “I’m The Only One” must be one of Belinda’s least favorite memories, since you can barely hear her. Gina Schock’s drumming is the only part of that song that stands out for me. How they were able to include backing vocals into this album’s mix is beyond me. A perfect case in point is “You Thought,” where even Jane Wiedlin seems to be doing all she can to make sure her squealing can be heard over the din.

The ballads on Talk Show come as a breath of fresh air. The interlude of “Forget That Day” is where all five members sound truly in sync and focused. The song’s tone is reminiscent of Belinda’s impressive solo work that would come later in the 80s. And even though I didn’t care for “Mercenary” when I first heard it, it is one song that has grown on me. It was, after all, the last new Go-Gos song the world would hear until their reunion 10 years later (that’s when I met them in person at the L.A. Tower Records).

If you really want to hear Belinda cut loose and show some muscle, give “Capture The Light”  a spin. She really shreds it on that one, which makes me wonder how it has gone forgotten altogether. Not only should it have been a single, it should also be performed live and be included on a hits compilation. 

The Go-Gos may have been forced to call it a day, but on “Capture The Light” and Talk Show they did their very best to shine just one more time.

Rating: A-

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© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of I.R.S., and is used for informational purposes only.