The Go-Go’s

Vinyl Friday #11: The Go-Go’s “Beauty and the Beat”


There was a point in my life where I couldn’t stand female singers. So many were boring and relied on looks or had the same generic “nice” voice. At some point that changed, probably after Patti Smith awakened my soul and Debbie Harry kept me alive for months on end. It seemed only natural that I would forgive my own kind and venture into the world of interesting female vocals.

The Go-Go’s were a band I grew up knowing. Their infectious singles were always plastered on the radio (and I guess they still are). But listening to this debut album in full was like waking up to a whole different celebration.

Beauty and the Beat was released in the bowels of the summer in 1981 on I.R.S. Really it was a great feat of planning because this is one of those great summer albums. The pop singles are catchy for those roll-your-car-windows-down moments (no better example than opening track “Our Lips Are Sealed”), but there is also the key songs that fill the times where summer is pretty crap. It’s shit and can be uncomfortably hot, dull and lonely (“This Town”).

Though, this album is too good to corner simply as a “fun summer album.” There is loads of great song writing here. My favourite song across any of their records, or in the 80s in general, is “Head Over Heels”. Every time.

I found Beauty and the Beat where I find most of the lost souls: in the depths of a jumbled up box in a antique shop. This particular shop is located in my hometown, and I have visited hundreds of times. Many stalls hold the stories of my record collection. They’ll probably even return there when I die. There used to be loads of albums there, and you can still find them if you look, though now many stalls have now been taken over by faux-vintage shabby chic rubbish.

The stall I found this baby in, though, is chock-full of albums from all over the spectrum of music. Usually it is too daunting of a task to go through them all. It’s a pretty iconic stall, actually. Well, in the grand scheme of the antique mall. In the middle of the floor is this fabulous mannequin who always dons some sort of interesting attire. Seems fitting to find this album tucked in one of the boxes on a table next to her. I believe this was the work of Kim Cattrall pulling me to it.

This album is in many ways very girly (just look at the lovely covers), but that’s not exactly why the album works. They are unapologetically women, of course, and their harmonies would only work in the typical registers for women. Their melodies are literally pure perfection and it really sets them apart from the utter blandness of manufactured pop singers. They are all masters of their instruments. But really I’m a sucker for a chiming guitar, so this album was always going to be up my alley.

I love this album. I love it even more on vinyl. This is the group of girls I wish I was cool enough to join. Thank heavens the mannequin lead me to them.