FILLING THE SPACE…WITH ELECTRICITY (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #114)

Not sure if it was the presence of Vicki Peterson (subbing for Charlotte Caffey), or the acoustics in Jay Leno’s old studio, or the awareness that it was a one off to promote a song that cut everything on the radio to shreds the three or four times it played in your market before it disappeared, but this is the best live singing I’ve ever heard from the last great rock ‘n’ roll band:

 

4 thoughts on “FILLING THE SPACE…WITH ELECTRICITY (Found in the Connection: Rattling Loose End #114)

  1. Wow. You ain’t kiddin’. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Belinda with a more constant, rapid vibrato, to boot. (I never knew any of the Bangles played with the Go-Gos, or even that they were friends! For some reason, that makes me happy.)

    Rock ‘n’ roll-cherishing cats like us could be forgiven for regarding the all-too-true designation “the last great [such] band” with some lament — but the recordings, not to mention preserved footage like what you’ve shared above, munificently give of themselves forever. The music will always be there, frozen in the blue sky, unassailable, eager for our ears, and just as heartening as on the day it was created.

    I know it’s a shocking prospect that I might ever illustrate a point by quoting a certain other, prior female group (me? Never!), but as the last words ever heard on a new Shangri-Las side go: “And the music will play as the world fades away.”

    That’s one hell of an epitaph, especially from the most passionately expressive vocal group of the sixties. And right through their very last line together, they sing like they believe it.

    I frankly find myself applying it quite often, and I pick myself up with the thought when I find myself realizing that all of the best rock ‘n’ roll is, in all likelihood, behind us.

    (Incidentally, that song, “Footsteps on the Roof,” was penned by a couple of guys who had also written some big Shondells tunes. Those were Roulette releases, of course. Hmmm……)

    • There’s always been an interesting cross-dynamic between the Go-Go’s and the Bangles (latest twist, after Kathy got kicked out a couple of years ago she did a gig with the Bangles, which can be found on YouTube–they always seem to fit into each other’ s space somehow). I sometimes think the bands like each other better than they like themselves!

      In any case, I especially loved the way they went from two-part to three-part to four-part close harmony….and then dropped back to two-part close harmony with Vicki singing counterpoint near the end.

      As for the “last-best”….I always stress rock n roll (or at least rock and roll) over “rock.” I’m sure there have been great rock bands since–bands who mastered some element of the old ethos or even created something new, albeit usually an ANTI-ethos, which I don’t tend to find appealing. I go back and forth on whether rock and roll got killed by the backlash, or it simply reached its natural limit (as art forms do) and the backlash was ready and waiting to fill the void. Hmmmm. Might make an interesting post some day!

      And just oh-by-the-way, one of the many reasons the Go-Go’s premature demise still hurts is that Belinda’s singing kept getting better, something else that might link them to the Shangs. In that context “Good Girl” was their “I’ll Never Learn.”….perfect in themselves, but all the more evocative for carrying the permanent ache of what might have been.

  2. So true. If only I could mentally remove Belinda’s solo stuff from its plastic-sounding eighties arrangements and production. I liked “Mad About You” for a while, but I just couldn’t get myself interested beyond that.

    My impulsive answer to the question of whether or not rock ‘n’ roll reached its natural limit is that it never did, simply because the same songs, even those that have existed for half a century, still have such an ardent audience.

    • I have to say Belinda’s solo stuff sounds a little better to my ear now that I know she didn’t descend all the way into Synth-Pop Hell…but I can’t say I listen to it much.

      And whether any art form ever reaches a limit beyond which some genius can’t take it is always an interesting debate. Impressionism? The Western? Be-bop? Yes, I suppose they all could have gone on to even greater heights…but then there’s the question of whether a given society (ours or anyone else’s) can even permit this. And the question doubles down when it’s a popular art as deeply embedded in the very air as rock and roll was from the fifties through the seventies. Taking a bleak view, the challenge for the Overlords is always the same. How do we package it? How do we kill it?

      So far, they’ve always found a way to do both.

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