1994: Go-Go’s - Return to the Valley of the Go-Go’s

One of the fringe benefits of good compilations is tracing the evolution of a particular outfit, especially when that outfit stuck to a sound and ran with it. That’s the case with disc one of Return to the Valley of the Go-Go’s.

The massively successful all-girl quintet became famous with their catchy, jubilant singles “We Got the Beat,” “Vacation,” and “Our Lips Are Sealed,” informed as they were by power pop, surf, and garage rock. However, few realize that the band started right in the epicenter of the LA punk scene and that vocalist Belinda Carlisle — her of the Diane Warren-penned ultra polished solo hits like “Heaven is a Place on Earth” and “I Get Weak” — was the original drummer for the Germs, answering, along with the future Lorna Doom, an ad that called for “two untalented girls” (even though she never got to perform with Darby and the band). Valley of the Go-Go’s, which not only compiles hits and album highlights but also live and rehearsal material from their early days, starts with the shamble-tastic double racket “Living at the Canterbury/Party Posse.” It can barely stand by itself on two feet and, for most of the track, it doesn’t. You can hear Belinda holler in a high and tiny voice while the band tries it’s best to play together.

Interestingly, “The Canterbury” in question was a squat lived in by many a scenester who pogo’d at the Masque while waiting for his/her turn to play; that its name reminds me of a strain of prog rock can’t be qualified as nothing short of poetic. Then there’s “Johnny, Are You Queer?” before it become a hit for Josie Cotton, sounding more desperate and snottier than the more famous version. A couple of tracks later, with “Fashion Seeker” and “London Boys,” you can hear how they start to feel less ashamed to incorporate more melodic vocals and, before you know it, you’re in the land of Beauty and the Beat.

And sure, here are all the picture-perfect singles (except for the not so recognized “Unforgiven,” but that’s because that came out later on their 2001 reunion album). It’s good to see where they came from and how they mastered their craft into great sing along songs, and that’s something only a good comp can achieve.


There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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