“The GoGo’s” Gives Great Look Into the Band’s Rise and Fall
If you're a GoGo's fan looking for more on the band's meteoric rise in the 80's. What broke them up. Or you'd just like to learn more about the ladies in the band that aren't Belinda Carlisle, then director Allison Ellwood's take on the band is a satisfying look at the women who make up the most successful female rock group of all time.
Ellwood is a long time documentary director, producer and editor. If you're a fan of rock documentaries you may know her work as she directed the two part documentary "The History of the Eagles", which is one of the best music documentaries I've seen. She also edited a great documentary on vilified Cubs fan Steve Bartman, who some Cubs fans blamed for the Cubs blowing an opportunity to go to the World Series after he interfered with a foul ball.
"The GoGo's" isn't a "History of the Eagles" sized documentary. There isn't a backstage climax that leads to the band going on indefinite hiatus. Or a clever quote from back in the day saying the band would get back together "when hell freezes over."
That's not to say that The GoGo's don't have their own story and their own drama that make for a compelling documentary. They do. There's personnel changes. Drug use and addiction. Youth. Management. And beating the odds of succeeding in a music industry geared not to take women seriously.
The film spends the most time exploring the group's formation and path to success from the Los Angeles Punk scene to signing with I.R.S Records and the success of their first album "Beauty and the Beat". And less time chronicling the group's troubles after achieving that success. However, it still satisfyingly explains what lead to the group's original demise after their album "Talk Show".
All the band members', their original manager, and former members get the opportunity to talk about the band and their experiences. Essentially to tell the GoGo's story. It's interesting to hear from those who over the band's career found themselves on the outside looking in. As well as hear Belinda, Charlotte, Kathy, Gina and Jane talk about those decisions.
I enjoyed getting to know the other GoGo's in this documentary, not just Belinda Carlisle. While I wasn't sitting there counting how much screen time each band member got, I came away feeling I knew more about Kathy, Gina, Jane and Charlotte than I knew about them before watching it. Whether that was a conscious choice, or just that they were more open about the experience than Belinda I don't know.
If there's one thing the documentary didn't spend a lot of time on it was discussing how they buried the hatchet and came back together. Not that some of that isn't discussed in the ladies talking about their original break up and how they didn't seem to possess the maturity to work things out or talk about their problems. It just led to me wondering how much of their collaboration over the past couple of decades is business based vs. truly wanting and enjoying working together.
If you like music documentaries I think you'll like this one.
While in high school and college Rob was planning to go into film or television. One of his career aspirations before the radio bug bit was an interest in making documentaries on musical artists and groups, shooting concert films, and directing music videos. Upon stepping into his first radio studio those plans changed and he's been in front of a microphone and behind the speakers ever since.