The Go-Go’s (Documentary Review)

Historically, ladies such as Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, and Patti Smith pioneered a new perspective on females in Rock-n-Roll. They were raw, unpredictable, and entirely their own. Paving the way for the future, at the dawn of the ’80s a new breed of female rockers took center stage and leading the pack were The Go-Go’s. In tradition of icon all-female Rock bands like The Runaways and Fanny, The Go-Go’s found their own path that squashed any gender inequality stereotypes one might have had. An interesting story of five young women who just wouldn’t take no for an answer, it is now told in detail within the new documentary The Go-Go’s.

Directly by Allison Ellwood (History of the Eagles 2013), the film initially premiered on Showtime back in 2020, but now finds a broader audience when hitting DVD and Blu-ray formats (Polygram/UMe), as well as through digital download & rental services (Eagle Rock Entertainment) on February 5, 2021. Now, for those who are not too well-versed on the importance of The Go-Go’s, let us briefly recap some bullet points before diving into the film.

More than just a Pop act, The Go-Go’s were a group of female musicians with roots in Punk Rock that informed their determined attitude. Self-taught musicians who took their lumps early on, they would quickly rise to become the most successful female band of all-time. Additionally, they also pioneered a sound with their 1981 debut album Beauty and the Beat. A record which really helped set the tone for New Wave/ Post-Punk scene and the decade to follow, Beauty and the Beat is an essential piece of music history. 

These tidbits of detail in mind, The Go-Go’s, like any band, had their highs and lows, eventually leading to their premature split in 1985. An unfortunate turn of events for a band with so much more promise ahead of hem, it was not be then end, because they would eventually reunite a various times through the decades that follow. Which leads us to the documentary which is a thoughtful, conversation driven film that let you hear the stories of each the five key members – Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock, and Kathy Valentine. Each individuals within their own right, they also give you their own personal prospective about who The Go-Go’s were, their rise to stardom, and what eventually lead to their breakup. 

Through it all you get each member’s outlook, but find one important common thread in each of their stories. What might that be? Simple, deep down they love creating music together and had a bond that was much deeper than merely finding success. Yes, success was a driving force, but you learn that it was the adversity and scars they earned along the way which drove them to great things. Looking back, it might have not been so easy to be an all female Rock band 40, 30, or even 20 years ago. Fortunately, The Go-Go’s harnessed whatever negativity was thrown their way into something positive and shoved in other’s faces of naysayers. All in all, this in inevitably the mortal of their story, and this documentary gives you a pretty clear image of it all. 

Well laid out and full of interesting details, if you could draw one criticism of the film at all, it is the absence of any details regarding the band’s latter years. That said, it does round up rather nicely planting the seed in your mind there might be more new music to come from the band. Only time will tell, but in the meantime, get out there, help vote them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021, and watch The Go-Go’s documentary, because Cryptic Rock gives it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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