Beauty And The Beat

The Go-Go's

I.R.S. Records, 1981

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


When are they going to re-release the Go-Go’s Beauty And The Beat in a deluxe edition?  I, for one, wouldn’t mind shelling out thirty bucks for it. How is it that this is the only Go-Go’s release not to have been be re-mastered? It’s their best and most popular album, for crying out loud. You would think that they would have brought it up-to-date during the album’s 25th anniversary in 2006, but no

As forgotten and left behind as it may be, Beauty And The Beat still stands tall as the first successful record by an all-girl rock band. The Runaways may have helped to pave the way, but the Go-Go’s got all of the accolades. They garnered Best New Artist and Album Of The Year nominations at the Grammys and shocked the male dominated recording industry by their musical proficiency. Unfortunately, their time in the spotlight would be short-lived and it wasn’t long before inner turmoil would completely tear the band apart. 

All things considered, things couldn’t have started on a better note. From the fun photos of the five band members decked out in towels and face cream on the cover to the songwriting judiciously delegated to each member, Beauty And The Beat had everything you could ever want in a debut album. The fact that the girls had distinct personalities (in addition to their good looks) certainly must have been keys to marketing the group in the best possible way. The self-appointed glamour girl was lead singer Belinda Carlisle, though when she started out in the band she was overweight and unattractive. The prankster was my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Carlisle’s partner-in-crime, bassist Kathy Valentine, who seemed to know just how to pull the wool over many a male admirer’s eyes (like Rob Lowe). Then there was Carlisle’s eventual arch rival and resident pixie, Jane Wiedlin, who would be the first to leave the ‘80s girl group for an ill-fated solo career.

Interpersonal drama and politics certainly weren’t factors that drummer Gina Schock or group leader Charlotte Caffey was counting on when the Go-Go’s were signed to I.R.S. Records in 1980. All these two blondes wanted to do was rock as hard as the boys. What they ended up being was the glue that had to constantly work harder to keep the gulf between the other girls from widening any further. Eventually, all the stress and partying to counteract that stress would take its toll on everyone involved with the Go-Go’s camp.  Schock’s health took a turn for the worse when a hole in her heart was discovered, requiring immediate and, thankfully, successful surgery. And as for the usually together Caffey, a dangerous addiction to heroin was what brought this talented musician to her knees. When it came to the perils of fame, it turned out that none of the Go-Go’s were immune.

But in 1981, all producers Richard Gottherer and Rob Freeman saw was talent, drive, and professionalism in these five young California girls when they bounded into the studio for the first time. The Go-Go’s were more than ready to deliver a record they would be proud to call their very own. I remember initially hearing “Our Lips Are Sealed” on the radio and not quite believing what I was hearing. Just when I thought the music industry was out of fresh and new ideas, along came the Go-Go’s. I’ve always been a fan of other female artists, so this album was right up my alley. After requesting practically every song to the community college radio station, I saved up enough pennies to go out and buy the album at my local department store. I think I celebrated purchasing Beauty And The Beat more than the Fourth of July that summer!

The “We Got The Beat / Can’t Stop The World” single is just the first of many highlights on the album. Schock outdoes herself on the drums on “How Much More” and Carlisle shows off her experimental side on “Automatic.” The girls prove they can handle a slow number like “This Town” or “Fading Fast,” even if they are best known for their high-speed fare such as the underrated “You Can’t Walk In Your Sleep.” Jane Wiedlin made sure she got to sing at least one verse on her signature classic hit “Our Lips Are Sealed,” and even recorded her own acoustic version of the song on her Greatest Hits compilation. All you have to do is compare the lyrics of “Our Lips Are Sealed” with Carlisle’s corny “Skidmarks On My Heart” to see who the better songwriter was (sorry, Belinda).

Rating: A

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© 2008 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. Records, and is used for informational purposes only.