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TBTS Reviews: Go-Go’s – Beauty and the Beat 30th anniversary edition

June 28, 2011

There are not many records that sold as well as Beauty and the Beat upon its initial release that have waited so long to issue a remastered version. I thought surely there would have been a 15th or a 20th anniversary release, but the Go-Go’s waited for 30. “We Got the Beat,” one of the best known and most easily recognizable singles from the group, was chosen to ring the opening bell for the true 80’s at the beginning of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, the movie that kick-started the “me” decade, in the sense that the 80’s didn’t really start to become the 80’s, as it is most commonly thought of, until ‘Fast Times’ came out. All of 1980 and at least half, if not all, of 1981 were late 70’s leftovers. Being a late 70’s leftover is not a bad thing. In fact I am a big fan of the 70’s and I’ll take the Pepsi challenge with that decade against the 80’s any day of the week. However, I must admit there were some good things that came out of the 80’s (mostly from near the beginning and close to the end) and Beauty and the Beat is one of them. Most probably because it’s not a typical 80’s sounding record. It has a late 50’s/early 60’s dancey surf vibe to it. Definitely not the way most would describe “the 80’s sound.”

The 30th anniversary B&tB Disc 1 keeps the song order unchanged, sounding clear and fresh without having adversely affected the music. “Our Lips Are Sealed” is just as enjoyable a listen today as it was when the LP grooves were new, playing over the airwaves through my AM/FM alarm clock radio as it did so many mornings to wake me up for school that year. That sentiment sums it up for the whole of B&tB: No matter if you remember the album from back then or if you’ve never heard it before, this is a rare gem and any lover of popular music will be likely to enjoy it for the first time or the hundredth.

Disc 2 contains a complete concert from the Metro Cub in Boston, MA recorded on August 20th, 1981 that gives you a great sampling of what the Go-Gos sounded like live just preceding the most successful time in their history. The show, less than a month after the release of B&tB, is not polished and clean, it’s spunky and raw, energetic and excited. Showing that their punk roots had not yet been entirely discarded. People were just starting to find out about these girls from LA, and the Boston club goers in attendance that night were surely among the many curious new fans the Go-Go’s would recruit worldwide over the next few years. If not when they arrived, surely by the time they left.

It’s difficult to find an album from any decade that’s as much all around pure fun as Beauty and the Beat. It is a pop masterpiece and one that thankfully even now does not sound dated, like so many other top sellers from that era. I have seen MP3 versions of the 30th Anniversary Beauty and the Beat that only have a handful of the live songs from Disc 2. Not enough I say, not enough. They waited a long time to put this one out, so don’t settle, get the full deal.

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