While on vacations over the seven years I've been lucky enough to oversee and write for this site, I've experienced more than a few '80s music inspirations that have led to memorable content. I just happened to have another of those this week when I caught a short but energetic show featuring the beloved '80s new wave band The Go-Go's at Disney's EPCOT resort. Fans of '80s music already know there are plenty of things to treasure about this band aside from its still sadly novel status as successful all-female rock ensemble. However, I found myself surprised to note that the admittedly charismatic joie de vivre of frontwoman Belinda Carlisle is probably only the third-best element of this band that emerged like a rocket more than three decades ago on the American new wave scene. Actually, I might place the potent, powerful drumming of Gina Schock at the top of the list. After all, her thunderous pounding greeted the enthusiastic audience at the show I attended and announced clearly that a flat-out rock and roll show was getting good and ready to happen. Not far behind, though, would certainly have to be the muscular two-guitar attack from guitarists (and primary songwriters for the band back in the day) Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey. That's not to say the still-lovely Carlisle was not in fine form both vocally and in her dancing-barefoot exuberance, but Wiedlin and Caffey can simply rock it out even when delivering delicate harmony vocals to round out the band's still-exhilarating sound.
This all got me to thinking that these two lesser-known ladies certainly never got the attention they deserved as major contributors to one of the most riveting flashpoint success stories of the early '80s. The glory didn't last for the band back then, and though Wiedlin tried dedicatedly to make her mark as a solo act - releasing three albums in a five-year span between 1985 and 1990 - pop radio did not seem to make room for any more than one former Go-Go. Wiedlin's somewhat girlish style may not work incredibly well in terms of lead vocals, but it would have been wise to allow her pure rock credibility to counteract the sugary production and pop-heavy arrangements that dominate those records. Nevertheless, "Blue Kiss" - one of the minor hit singles from her self-titled debut - demonstrates Wiedlin's gift for pop melody even if it unduly downplays her snarl as an edgy electric guitarist. Ultimately, it's a piece of satisfying '80s pop that didn't get fair treatment from radio at the time and certainly should be better-known both by members of the still-rabid league of Go-Go's fans as well as the general public roaming around Florida and elsewhere. As for the reunited Go-Go's, this is one particular nostalgia tour that offers far more than a vanilla swirl of just going through the motions. It's genuine, worthy rock and roll regardless of unnecessarily limiting considerations of gender.
- Sample or download "Blue Kiss" here.
- The Go-Go's Artist Profile
- Top '80s Songs of The Go-Go's
- Belinda Carlisle Artist Profile
Single Cover Image Courtesy of I.R.S. Records