10 Albums That Changed My Life: Kathy Valentine

The Go-Go's bassist gives Goldmine the 10 albums that changed her life over her long musical career.
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Kathy Valentine, publicity photo by Ruby Matheu.

Kathy Valentine, publicity photo by Ruby Matheu.

A native of Austin, Texas, Valentine played in several Austin bands before relocating to Los Angeles. While with her first LA band The Textones, Valentine wrote “Vacation” and “Can’t Stop The World.” Her next band, The Go-Go’s, would go on to record those songs.

Valentine joined The Go-Go’s at the tail end of 1980, just in time for the band’s big breakthrough with 1981’s Beauty and the Beat album. In between stints with The Go-Go’s, Valentine has also recorded and performed with The BlueBonnets and The Delphines. She released a solo album, Light Years, in 2005.

Valentine’s first book, All I Ever Wanted: A Rock ‘N’ Roll Memoir, was released earlier this year. Valentine recorded a soundtrack to go along with her memoir that can be heard on Spotify.

With a self-titled documentary on The Go-Go’s directed by Alison Ellwood airing on Showtime, the band is scheduled to tour the USA in the hear future to promote the documentary.

—John Curley

The White AlbumThe Beatles copy

The Beatles, The Beatles (The White Album)

It seemed like everyone had this album and what was this — I loved the same record adults did?! I perceived it as everything: accessible: playful, ominous, important, mysterious, intriguing. I’m only 10 years old but it captured the world as I saw it and I felt important and a part of it all.

Ziggy-Stardust-Cover copy

David Bowie, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
It’s hard to describe what it meant to be an utterly lost, sad and confused 13 year old, desperate to fit into a social peer group who took every opportunity to ridicule and exploit me. I turned to drinking, drugs and sex to cope. And then THIS record comes out. And I see, hear and feel every song as reprieve and a promise that being outcast has an endgame that far surpasses my immediate surroundings.

the_rolling_stones-exile_on_main_st copy

The Rolling Stones, Exile on Main St.
Hips, heart and head — every part of my being responded to these songs. The album seemed like a full-on musical expression of doing whatever you wanted, however you wanted. I imagined the guys in the band being insulated, catered to, an exclusive club having the best party ever, needing nothing but each other, guitars, bass and drums. I wanted the same for me.

Sex Pistols – Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s the Sex Pistols copy

The Sex Pistols, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols
If you liked rock and roll, things were pretty bleak as 1977 wound up. Was it gone forever? Sure seemed that way. And then the Sex Pistols came out with this and call it what you want — the truth was undeniable: rock was back in a savage way and there was hope for all us young musicians. If this record could be made and released, who knew what else was in store?

Blondie, Plastic Letters

Blondie, Plastic Letters
I saw them on TV. Went immediately to buy a record and got this second LP because I liked the cover better than the first album. I’d never heard such a seamless blend of everything I loved in music. It left an imprint that’s still buried under most of the songs I write. Cue the elements: gritty and pretty co-exist, drive that melody like it’s a hot rod.

The Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat

The Go-Go’s, Beauty and the Beat
Only motherhood has changed my life more than this album. Literally, tangibly, historically. Sometimes, random chance and fate converge to make dreams come true.

Howlin’ Wolf, Moanin’ in the Moonlight

Howlin’ Wolf, Moanin’ in the Moonlight
I’m a Texas kid and had plenty of exposure to blues, got it from the get-go. As a teen I drifted to more contemporary sounds: punk, raw pop, trashy rock. But in my 30s, I got more serious about my guitar playing and went back to the basics. If I ever need a reminder about what it takes to make the hairs stand up on my arms, this is the go-to. The original trance music.

Miles Davies, Kind Of Blue copy

Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
If anyone ever told me I’d be spending most of the 90’s falling in heart-racing, enthralled, enchanted love with jazz, I’d have bet my bank account against it. But that’s exactly what happened. Kind of Blue was the portal into a world where the beauty of music could leave me in tears.

Missy Elliot, Supa Dupa Fly

Missy Elliot, Supa Dupa Fly
I liked hip hop and rap but had this weird sense like it wasn’t mine to enjoy. Jazz, blues, they’d been co-opted long before my time. Even the Beastie Boys didn’t grant access — they were young, they were New York. I was a transplant Texan ex-Go-Go pushing 40. Then Missy: a woman doing something great in a genre that had been dominated by men. It felt righteous, felt familiar. This record opened the door.

Mikel Rouse, Swingers Castle

Mikel Rouse, Swingers Castle
Seems like no matter what the state of things are, a true artist always finds a way and a place to keep making art. I watched this artist take inspiration where he found it and before my eyes, a house in the Hollywood Hills and a Steinway transformed into a stunning record. It made me want to create something of my own, outside a band, and led to the soundtrack to my memoir.

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