When you have been a lady rising up within the early ‘80s in Los Angeles—and possibly numerous different elements of the nation—there was no band cooler than The Go-Go’s. From “We Acquired the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” to “How A lot Extra” and “Lust to Love,” their songs had a playful, pop-punk vibe with the right sprinkling of surf guitar. The quintet was retro but completely present on the similar time, and—as unique MTV VJ Martha Quinn astutely factors out within the “The Go-Go’s” documentary airing on Showtime this weekend—they have been a really perfect match for the burgeoning music video channel. Driving round in a classic convertible, splashing in a Beverly Hills fountain within the sunshine, they made you need to hang around with them AND be them. They have been completely trendy whereas giving off an air that they didn’t care what anybody thought.
The Go-Go’s additionally occurred to be the primary all-female band to jot down their very own songs, play their very own devices and see their debut, 1981’s Magnificence and the Beat, go to No. 1. (This was additionally the primary album I purchased with my very own cash, having walked all the way down to the Wherehouse Music retailer on Ventura Boulevard within the San Fernando Valley with my childhood buddy, Jenny, and her older sister once I was 9 years previous. I felt very grown up cradling that album in my arms, with its barely naughty, pink-and-blue cowl depicting the 5 ladies carrying nothing however fluffy tub towels and creamy facial masks.)
However as we study from director Alison Ellwood’s entertaining and richly sourced documentary, they did care what individuals thought. That they had no alternative—they have been ladies within the music enterprise. And whereas Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock, and Kathy Valentine tried to stay true to themselves and one another so long as they may, archival footage and new interviews reveal that even being groundbreaking bad-asses didn’t insulate them from the tried-and-true highs and lows of rock superstardom.
Ellwood’s movie does observe a well-recognized trajectory: the meteoric rise, the medicine and booze, the egos and pressures and, lastly, the battle over cash and credit score that tore them aside in 1985 after simply three albums. However what makes this documentary really feel particular and alive is the best way she vividly takes us again to the early days, letting The Go-Go’s reminisce about their beginnings and inform their very own tales: who met who at which punk present, who introduced precise musicianship and who was studying on the job. Wiedlin, the saucer-eyed, baby-voiced singer/songwriter and guitarist, speaks candidly about her lifelong battle with melancholy, her suicide try at 15, and the way enjoying music saved her life. Carlisle, the kittenish lead singer who went on to the most important solo profession, recollects rising up poor because the eldest of seven youngsters, and the way her perky, cheerleader exterior disguised her internal punk-rock rage. Guitarist and keyboardist Caffey, who additionally wrote lots of their hits, talks frankly in regards to the raging heroin behavior she efficiently hid for years.
However a unifying theme in each the previous footage and new discussions is the delight these ladies felt as trailblazers, whilst they insist they weren’t feminists, per se. They have been simply gifted and hardworking, and so they occurred to be ladies. However as is so typically the case with stratospheric rock glory, The Go-Go’s quickly discovered the authenticity and power that made them so singular being crushed, glossed, and packaged inside the business equipment. Having all 5 of them (in addition to the band’s two former members, Margot Olavarria and Elissa Bello) look instantly into the digital camera, unearth their regrets and open their hearts is bracing in a means that goes past these previous “Behind the Music” episodes on VH1. They’ve gained knowledge and perspective over the previous few many years, in addition to a depraved and profane humorousness. And but Schock, who raised the band to an entire new degree along with her drumming, nonetheless will get choked up all these years later recalling the way it felt to be sidelined. And Valentine, a guitarist who taught herself to play bass over a three-day cocaine binge as a result of she needed to be part of The Go-Go’s so badly, will get misplaced within the reminiscence of feeling at sea as soon as the band broke up, as if it had occurred yesterday.
All these moments, mixed with a wealth of black-and-white pictures and uncooked efficiency clips through the years, give us a full image of a selected place and time in music historical past—which is why the rushed ending appears so abrupt and jarring. We see all 5 ladies reunite to work on a brand new tune and carry out collectively, and it seems like there’s a chapter lacking. So many questions come up, particularly given what a loyal and joyful sisterhood they’d solid and what an acrimonious cut up they suffered. It’s cool to see them again on stage on the Whisky a Go Go, the legendary Sundown Strip music venue the place they opened for teams like Insanity and The Specials, however who initiated that reunion? How awkward was that? And what’s occurring of their lives now?
“The Go-Go’s”—and The Go-Go’s—are each such a blast that they finally make you lengthy for extra.
Premiering tonight on Showtime.