Review Summary: A bit of a letdown after their debut LP, but the title track kicks butt.
Within just a few years, The Go-Go's went from being a bunch of California party girls who could barely play their instruments to being one of most successful groups of the early '80s. Their 1981 debut LP Beauty and the Beat
reached the top of the Billboard
charts, and eventually went double platinum - not bad for a band that had been spit at and booed off the stage on their first British tour shortly before the album's release.
With so much sudden success, the question was what would they do for a follow-up. The answer was 1982's Vacation
. Was it a good
answer? Well, yes and no.
The truth was, the climb to success took a toll on The Go-Go's. Most of them were in their mid-20's, and in addition to finding the rocket trip to the top of the musical mountain a bit dizzying, their hard-touring lifestyle, which included a lot of sex, drugs and alcohol, had taken a lot out of them. The pressure was on to keep the music coming, but the band was also seriously burnt out. The result of all of this was an album considerably less consistent than their debut effort, but one that still showed flashes of brilliance.
Not surprisingly, the hoss of the LP was a song about how badly The Go-Go's needed some time off, the title track "Vacation". It was their second most successful single ever, and is inarguably one of the iconic tracks of the 1980s. And in fact, it's still so well recognized that just last year, Marvel Studios used it for the closing titles of their Spider-Man: Far From Home
Beyond that, though, the album is a little bit hit and miss. I've always found "Girl of 100 Lists" to be a fun song, and "Beatnik Beach" is an enjoyable and whimsical bit of surf rock. "Cool Jerk", a cover of a 1960s song by The Capitols, has always been popular with Go-Go's fans, even if it's right on the borderline between smile-inducing and cringeworthy. (It does have a pretty cool bassline, though.)
"Get Up and Go" had some minor success on the singles charts, but "This Old Feeling", which was also released as a single, didn't really do much of anything. As for the rest of the LP, there's nothing on it that's bad, but not much that's really memorable either.
The Go-Go's definitely deserve a place of honor in rock and roll history. They are, to date, the only all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to ever top the Billboard
charts. And in a lot of ways, they could be considered one of the pioneers of pop punk. That being the case, Vacation
also has its place in history, as it's one of the only four studio albums the band ever released. It's certainly not their strongest album overall - I actually consider it their weakest, although I know I'm in the minority there. But the title track by itself makes it worthy of being remembered - it's a frickin' killer - and the rest of the LP is at least OK.