I gave up looking for a reason: the best of Belinda Carlisle and the Go-Go’s

Having lived with the 2015 reissue of Talk Show for a couple weeks, I’m struck by ferocious it sounds. Unlike the Bangles, the Go-Go’s never once used song doctors. Quite the contrary: Talk Show has more contributions from the band than any other release, with Kathy Valentine, author of Beauty and the Beat‘s haunting “Can’t Stop the World,” playing lead guitar on a couple tracks substituting for Charlotte Caffey, recovering from surgery.

What a fabulous quintet the Go-Go’s were: groupies, drugs, and a laser focus on their music. How many bands who partied and imploded released a third album as sharp as Talk Show? How many bands benefited from a production as sympathetic as Richard Gotterer’s on Beauty and the Beat? Unless you lived in Australia and perhaps the UK, Belinda Carlisle, who was even to my sympathetic ears the least felicitous element in the Go-Go’s sound, was a person to whom you condescended; yet she released a string of solo singles that combined star power and SoCal avidity and still sound vivid: fuck plagiarism, “Heaven is a Place on Earth” surpasses Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Bad Name,” while “Circle in the Sand” is as chilling as a damp shoulder on the beach exposed to Pacific winds. If anything, Belinda did James Mason’s son, Ronald Reagan’s protocol chief, a favor by marrying him — and staying married (she also has a lovely gay activist son). Meanwhile “Mad About You” defines Song of the Summer.

1. Head Over Heels
2. Lust to Love
3. We Got the Beat
4. Our Lips are Sealed
4. Cant Stop the World
5. Heaven is a Place on Earth
6. Forget That Day
7. Rush Hour
8. Tonite
9. Turn to You
10. Mad About You
11. You Thought
12. I Get Weak
13. Skidmarks on My Heart
14. Vacation
15. Circle in the Sand
16. Beneath That Blue Sky
17. Fading Fast
18. Cool Jerk
19. Summer Rain
20. Cool Places

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