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This Weekend I’ll Mostly be Listening to… Girlschool September 27, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Some groups work best with albums, others with singles. Perhaps others still find EPs the best form. Girlschool, purveyors of – at least initially punk inflected – New Wave of British Heavy Metal seem to me to have done their best work on single. Kim McAuliffe (vocals/guitars), Kelly Johnson (guitar/vocals), Denise Dufort (drums who had some sort of a stint with the Au-Pairs according to some online sources) and Enid Williams (bassist) in many ways were reminiscent of the Runaways transplanted to Britain. There’s something in that, particularly in the vocals and the speedy charge of the drums/guitar/bass lineup. There’s a sense that they fitted as neatly into the more melodic end of punk as much as metal – and they weren’t afraid to see themselves as directly influenced by punk, at least on their earlier tracks. But that said there was a strong metallic foundation to their output. Sufficiently so that Lemmy from Motorhead sought their addition to the Bronze label which Motorhead were on having seen them live.

And later there was their eventual one-off merger with Motorhead as Headgirl, which produced that enduring classic, their cover of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates ‘Please Don’t Touch’. It’s worth noting that for both groups that release was their most successful chart appearance to that point.

Their early material was fantastic, a rabbit punch of hard-edged music but as time moved on they suffered from a move towards more US oriented rock sounds as well as line-up changes. But those early years and the singles and EPs that they released during that period are well worth a listen.

Taking some at random, ‘Take It All Away,’ one of their earliest tracks is rough and ready and clearly punk influenced. ‘Emergency’ again has that punky vigour (and there’s something about the phrasing of the guitars at the beginning which reminds me of the Pink Fairies). It is fair to say they riffed on certain sounds… Yeah Right is not a million miles from Emergency. ‘C’mon Let’s Go’ just perfect in its gonzoid glam stomp genius. ‘Nothing to Lose’ which surely shares some strands of DNA with the Runaways. And there’s many more and a special word for the rhythm section who power the tracks through.

As it happens I used to know someone who emigrated to the UK and who fell into their circle. He found them extremely friendly and welcoming, just genuinely nice people.

I don’t want to make any great claims about this music, and yet even today I find it oddly satisfying. In fact even more than the Runaways they remind me in their earliest years in some ways of the Ramones, that sense of rawness, of economy and the fact that well over a quarter of a century later they still work together – well, okay, that’s not the Ramones, but that was a process of attrition, was it not? (sadly Johnson died some years ago but McAuliffe, Dufort and Williams are still playing as Girlschool).

C’mon Let’s Go

Emergency

Nothing to Lose

Watch Your Step

Take It All Away

Please Don’t Touch (as Headgirl, with Motorhead).

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