This is the new cover art for the 1971 album "God Bless The Go-Go's."
This is the new cover art for the 1971 album "God Bless The Go-Go's."

The Go-Go’s: God Bless the Go-Go’s (2001, Eagle Records, CD or vinyl). Twenty years ago, 23 years after the all-female band formed in Los Angeles and 17 years after the band had broken up, The Go-Go’s reunited to create this, their fourth and what proved to be final album. In this year that The Go-Go’s finally will be inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, the album makes its vinyl debut and the CD is reissued with new cover art and two bonus tracks from international editions of the original album.

The band consisted of lead vocalist Belinda Carlisle, lead guitarist and keyboardist Charlotte Caffey, drummer Gina Schock, bassist Kathy Valentine and rhythm guitarist Jane Wiedlin. They had the most success with their debut album, “Beauty and the Beat” (1981), a classic that is considered one of the cornerstones of the American new wave movement and included the hits “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “We Got the Beat.” The album topped the charts for six straight weeks in spring 1982. The albums “Vacation” (1982) and “Talk Show” (1084) followed, but Wiedlin left the group in October 1984. An attempt to continue on without her fizzled in May 1985.

Brief reunions saw the group re-record “Cool Jerk” in 1990 and to record three new songs in 1994 for the two-disc retrospective “Return to the Valley of The Go-Go’s.” After a Schock lawsuit was resolved by the band touring in 1999, the band continued touring through 2012, when Valentine left the group. It was this latter period that saw the release of the wonderful “God Bless The Go-Go’s” album, produced by Paul Kolderie and Sean Slade (Radiohead, Hole) and featuring Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong on the single “Unforgiven,” which he co-wrote. Also contributing to the album were Rame Jaffee (The Wallflowers and Foo Fighters) on “Here You Are,” and Roger Manning (Jellyfish, Imperial Drag and The Moog Cookbook) on “Daisy Chain.”

The album was noted for its “punchy exuberance” and it has relentless energy, which surfaces in both the opening hard rocker “La La Land,” which talks about returning, and “Unforgiven.” “Apology” is softer, with nice vocals on the stripped-down chorus. Rock returns with “Stuck in My Car,” while trying to return to a lover. The fun rocker “Kissing Asphalt” also has no let-up. Strings are used well on both “Here You Are” and “Daisy Chain,” with the latter a bit Beatlesque and featuring a very good chorus. “Sonic Superslide” is the track that most sounds like the earlier Go-Go’s.

The two bonus tracks are the rocker “I Think I Need Sleep,” so the singer can dream of her lover, which was only on the UK version of the original album, and “King of Confusion,” which was only on the Japanese version. Grade: A

Gary Numan: Intruder (BMG, CD). Bask in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Numan, a pioneer of electronic music, made the charts and earned fame with the songs “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” and “Cars.” Since the heady early years, Numan, who has a distinctive voice, has continued with his passion for dystopian science fiction and electronics, releasing 14 albums, almost an album a year, between 1980 and 1997. Then, he only released two albums during the first decade of the new century.

The renaissance of attention to Numan began with 2011’s “Dead Son Rising.” In 2013, he began his brilliant trilogy about the destruction of the planet, with both “Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)” (2013) and “Savage (Songs from a Broken World)” (2017) set in a post-apocalyptic, devastated world. The trilogy concludes with the new “Intruder” album, which is a prologue to the previous two albums and written from the prospective of Mother Earth, who basically is asking what mankind is going to do to prevent the oncoming ecological disaster, caused by climate change.

Through the years, Numan developed a fondness for Iranian music, the strains of which he magically weaves into his songs, including the dark opener here, called “Betrayal,” and in the chorus of standout “The Gift,” which opens with ambient industrial sounds. A plea to be saved fills “I Am Screaming,” which has a big, sweeping build-up to the chorus. The opening of the title track is very percussive and Nature says, “I could listen to you scream, pretty music to my ears,” and suggests mankind could beg for God’s mercy. There is another industrial/electronic start to “Is This World Not Enough,” which has big, wonderful closing sweep. “And It Breaks Me Again” has a softer start, but in it, Nature despairs of being helpless and facing the end.

Towards the end of the album, a bit of the gloom is lifted as both “Saints and Liars” and the even better “Now and Forever” have pop elements. There also is some bounce to the closing “When You Fall.” The CD also is available in a hardcover 20-page mini-book version with the lyrics. However, the lyrics are very small and on a black background, making them very hard to read. Grade: A

Procol Harum: Missing Persons (Alive Forever) (Esoteric Antenna, CD EP). During the pandemic lockdown, Procol Harum singer Gary Brooker came across rough mixes of these two songs made during a previous recording session. The exact origin date is unknown, but Booker says, “They weren’t written last week, neither are they old.” The band then finished the tracks for this release, the band’s first since 2017’s “Novum,” its 13th album.

“Missing Persons (Alive Forever)” is classic Procol Harum, opening with that well-known organ sound and featuring a big chorus and the typical drop-back to simpler voices before the song builds again. “War Is Not Healthy” has a funkier sound and angrier lyrics, with Brooker half-singing and half-rapping. Here, the guitar and piano dominate. There also is a radio edit – 4:40 compared to 5:37 – of “Missing Persons (Alive Forever).” Both songs have music by Brooker and lyrics by Keith Reid. Grade: B+

Juliana Hatfield: Blood (American Laundromat, CD). After four years of the previous Administration, including a year of the pandemic, it seems natural that anger might build up and it certainly erupts on Hatfield’s new album, her 19th solo album that takes a seep dive into the dark side by throwing light on modern psychology and behavior.

“I think these songs are a reaction to how seriously and negatively a lot of people have been affected by the past four years,” said Hatfield in a press release. “But it is fun, musically. There’s a lot of playing around. I didn’t really have a plan when I started this project.”

As the pandemic limited studio availability, Hatfield had to learn to record at her Massachusetts home, with recent collaborator Jed Davis assisting from Connecticut.

“Usually, I work in a studio. I did more than half the work in my room – with Jed helping me to troubleshoot the technology and helping with building and arranging some of the songs – and then I finished up with additional overdubs and mixing with engineer James Bridges at Q Division Studios in Somerville, MA.,” Hatfield continued.

The result is Hatfield is credited with the majority of the work put into the project. From the keyboards and drumming to all the guitars, she sang, wrote, produced and played on every track.

The opener, “The Shame of Love,” is filled with stacked and grinding guitars as it talks about the cycle of returning to a relationship that does not work. In “Gorgon,” she says she does not sing love songs and “You were sullen and blue/ because I refused to die for you.” There is a more normal beat on “Nightmary,” but the lyrics are a very political statement, as she sings, “The whole world is controlled by fascist blood-sucking thugs.” (Hatfield’s 2017 album “Pussycat” hurled criticism at Donald Trump for his behavior around women.)

The very dark “Had a Dream” has her dreaming of committing murder a couple of different ways, then saying, “It was a very American dream.” The song features dense drumming. “Splinter” has a lighter sound and “Suck It Up” has some bounce. However, “Chunks” returns to aggression and violence. “Mouthful of Blood” is more melodic, but the song is about self-censorship as to not provoke attacks from those on the right of the political spectrum. It is the album’s first single. On “Dead Weight,” Hatfield harmonizes nicely with herself. Grade: B+

Mary Hott with The Carpenter Ants: Devil in the Hills: Coal Country Reckoning (Harmonic Alliance, CD). This is an interesting project as Hott, with seven original songs among 10 and an information-filled, 24-page booklet, sheds light upon the long-hidden stories of the men, women and children who labored in the West Virginia mining country during the early 20th Century. This summer marks 100 years since the end of West Virginia’s notorious Mine Wars.

A seventh-generation West Virginian, the Paw Paw native, songwriter/singer Hott devoted years to the making of this album. The 11-track song cycle features seven original songs and Hott’s interpretations of the miner’s march “Blair Mountain Ballad” and Southern gospel hymn “Life’s Railroad to Heaven.” There is also a reinvention of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” which is the only thing here that did not appeal to me.

Don Dixon, the legendary indie-rock producer, co-produced the album with Michael Lipton, the longtime Mountain Stage house band guitar player, WV Music Hall of Fame founder/director and guitarist and songwriter in The Carpenter Ants, the Americana/Gospel Charleston, WV-based band that served as the album’s studio musicians. Dixon recorded the album with his portable studio gear in Lipton’s acoustically warm old house in Charleston.

Indignation about what happened to young women and girls in coal country --- as well as an incident during her own childhood -- were among the reasons that compelled Hott to tell the region’s stories in song.

The album opens with a brief recorded recitation by a coal miner. “They Built a Railroad” is a rolling, country-tinged song written by Hott and Lipton that sets the scene for the coal industry’s domination in West Virginia. Hott sings, “Our ancient hills held a rich man’s treasure. They carried workers from Ellis Island. They brought freed slaves to work the mines. They trafficked girls for comfort and pleasure. Total power over humankind.”

In “Annabelle Lee,” a Celtic-style ballad, an impoverished family rents a 12-year-old daughter to coal company agents who seek “comfort girls” for company managers in remote coal camps. The driving “Take the Esau” alludes to the terrible price women paid just to keep their families fed when a husband was injured or died in the mines.

The title track has a slinky blues sound, while “Rise Up, WV” is very upbeat. Hott’s vocal is echoed on the cover of “Blair Mountain Ballad.” Grade B+