Although the Go-Go's
are remembered today as hugely influential pop stars of the early '80s, at the time their impact seemed likely to be short-lived. Oh, sure, in 1982 you could hardly find a teenage girl who wasn't blasting "We Got the Beat" out of what fogies today know as a boombox. Those who knew that the Go-Go's hailed from the same Los Angeles underground scene that spawned X, Black Flag and Fear were convinced the music world had stood on its head.But in those days, hype machines weren't quite as finely tuned, and radio was considerably more fickle. The Go-Go's would have only five hit singles over a three-year period before they'd dissolve in a mess of legal and personal problems well-known to fans of VH1's Behind the Music
. Five hit singles, taken from three albums, however, turned out to be enough to spawn a legend. The Go-Go's understood that punk-rock values -- energy, enthusiasm, crunch, speed -- were not inherently at war with melody. In many ways, they prefigured the rise of power pop/punk acts such as Green Day.
So here comes a reunion album, and darned if Billie Joe Armstrong isn't along for the ride on the first single, "Unforgiven." It's not the best song on the record -- that honor belongs to the decidedly Mott the Hoople-esque "Daisy Chain" -- but it carries the Go-Go's trademarks of well-developed melody, solid yet simple guitar riffs, vocal harmony and counterpoint, and a brisk take-no-prisoners approach. The new material will blend in well with the old favorites, though the Go-Go's will surely understand if the crowd gets a lot wilder when they play "Vacation" or "Head Over Heels."