Monday, 22 July 2019

Punk/Power Pop/Pop Rock: The Go-Go's - Return To The Valley Of The Go-Go's (1994 I.R.S. Records) 2CD


Of all the various best-ofs and compilations that have come out over time that cover the Go-Go's career, this one is the clearest winner, by a long shot. Though by default it doesn't tell the full story, appearing as it did in 1994, in terms of containing both the famous hits and a slew of rarities and unreleased tracks,
Return to the Valley of the Go-Go's is equally valuable for both neophytes and hardcore fans. The first 11 tracks alone make for an entertaining peek into the band's earliest days, with a slew of live cuts from both early rehearsals and gigs, including a number of songs taped at the legendary SF punk venue the Mabuhay Gardens.


Everything's rough, energetic, and merry fun -- while it's no surprise why some compositions remained unheard in later years, it's still worth hearing how the group pureed everything from straight-up punk to spaghetti Western guitar and girl group right from the start. A real treat is a romp through "Johnny, Are You Queer?" which would later get a more famous (and much more sedate!) take by Josie Cotton.

Plenty of rare B-sides from the group's commercially dominant days surface here and there, and as for the big hits, they're available a-plenty: "We Got the Beat," "Vacation," "Our Lips Are Sealed," "Head Over Heels," "Turn to You," and more. Choice album cuts include "Skidmarks on My Heart" and "This Town."
Closing things out is an acoustic live take on "Mercenary" from the band's 1990 reunion and three wholly new songs from 1994, including the enjoyable "The Whole World Lost Its Head." Topping things off is a great booklet featuring a hilarious collection of photos and ephemera from early days on, with plenty of amusing comments from the bandmembers, along with an enjoyable history of the group and reflections from all five on their favorite songs.(Ned Raggett, allmusic.com)


This compilation is more interesting than the many other compilations, which concentrate only on the hits of the Go-Go's, because you also get a lot from the early days of the band. And this is really fun and brings you (audibly) closer to the continuous development of the band. Blades'' already indicates something that should become the sound of the band for some years.

'' London Boys'' follows this sound consistently, even if there are still no really resounding pophooks. Beatnik Beach'' shows how much the band has developed 'live'. The band sounds in their early days very influenced by British New Wave and Punk bands. Lust To Love'' manages to capture their live power very well in the studio. How Much More'' shows a change away from minor harmonies towards pop. '' We Got The Beat'' captivates with Sixties quotes and Power Pop. I think from 1980 the band was unstoppable on their way to Pop Olymp. Enjoy.(Frank)

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