The erstwhile Go-Go looks back at 1986’s Belinda, 1991’s Live Your Life Be Free and 1996’s A Woman & A Man.
Belinda Carlisle interview
Belinda Carlisle had offers to go it alone all the way through The Go-Go’s career. That’s what happens you’re the frontwoman of a successful, Billboard-topping pop band. But no, The Go-Go’s were a tight one for all, all for one unit. Until their spectacularly messy split in May 1985, that is. So when IRS Records’ Miles Copeland approached the then-26-year-old singer in the weeks after to maybe, possibly, do the solo thing, it was a simple case of why-the-hell-not.
“I said sure,” Carlisle recalls to Classic Pop 36 years on. “I mean, I didn’t know how to do anything else!”
In the end, Belinda Carlisle’s solo fame would eclipse even that of her one-time band. She scored a world-conquering hit with the Grammy-nominated 1987 power pop classic Heaven Is A Place On Earth, while its parent album, Heaven On Earth, was certified triple platinum in the US and the UK.
Bafflingly, her first LP as a solo artist didn’t even chart in Britain. And while its lead 45, Mad About You, peaked at No.3 Stateside, it took until a 1988 reissue for it to hit in the UK. So, given that we Brits never took to Belinda first time round, its 2021 reissue is a chance to finally acquaint ourselves with its immaculately coiffured pop.
Belinda Carlisle’s debut solo album hit the high street in May 1986, almost exactly a year after The Go-Go’s dramatic implosion. Produced by MOR maestro Michael Lloyd (Barry Manilow, Leif Garrett et al), Belinda boasted songwriting contributions from The Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs, Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Belinda’s old band buddy, Charlotte Caffey.
While the single Mad About You (a song originally intended for the aborted fourth Go-Go’s album) went Top Five in the US, Belinda’s other three singles – I Feel The Magic, a cover of Freda Payne’s Band Of Gold and Shot In The Dark – all tanked. That must have left a bruise or two.
“Having a song that doesn’t do well is always kind of a disappointment,” Carlisle tells us, via Zoom, “but Mad About You was so big that it made it a lot more palatable.”