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Sunday Old School: Girlschool

Nowadays, heavy metal fans are pretty used to seeing women in bands. Arch Enemy, Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation to name some of the most successful. But in the late 1970s and early 1980s, heavy metal was seen as dominated by white males and bands were accused of scaring away potential female fans by having a macho image and misogynistic lyrics. However, this perception was changed, or at least altered somewhat by four women from London who called themselves, Girlschool. The band was originally a covers outfit named, Painted Lady but eventually decided to begin writing original material, taking their new name from the B-side of the hit song, "Mull Of Kintyre" by Wings. They released their first single, "Take It All Away" in 1978 and received some radio play, as well as a strengthened sense of enthusiasm from the British metal underground. Not least of the people to take an interest in the group was Motorhead main man Lemmy, who offered Girlschool a supporting slot on their "Overkill" tour. After supporting Welsh rock favourites, Budgie, the band auditioned for, and received, a record deal with Bronze Records.

The band then recorded their debut album, "Demolition," which was released in 1980. The album was well timed, as several other British heavy metal bands such as Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Motorhead all released albums which were wildly successful and helped the fledgling New Wave Of British Heavy Metal explode in popularity. "Demolition" was successful in and of itself too, reaching number 28 in the British album charts and featured some of the band’s best known work and saw Girlschool becoming one of the most popular bands in the movement. Their popularity continued to grow when they teamed up with Motorhead for an EP entitled, "St. Valentine’s Day Massacre" under the collective pseudonym, Headgirl, which reached number five in the British charts and featured the hit single, “Please Don’t Touch.” The band soon got back to their own work and released the album, "Hit And Run" in 1981, which was even more successful than it’s predecessor, reaching number five in the charts and earned the group supporting slots with the likes of Black Sabbath, Rainbow and Rush.

The success soon began to take it’s toll however, and bass player Enid Williams left the band after they released an EP named, "Wildlife." The departure of Williams and the somewhat watered down sound of their next album, "Screaming Blue Murder" damaged the band’s success to a degree, but they still remained an in demand live band. The band then attempted to break through in America like their fellow countrymen Def Leppard and Judas Priest had done, but ultimately proved to be unsuccessful in their efforts and saw poor figures in record sales afterwards, eventually leading the group to effectively disband for a years, though they never announced that they had broken up.

Girlschool eventually did begin touring again and decided to shift their focus onto such, with their 1992 self-titled album being their last studio release for ten years. They supported and toured with other bands from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement and performed at festivals such as Wacken Open Air for a decade before releasing a new album in 2002 entitled, "21st Anniversary: Not That Innocent," with another studio album, "Believe" following two years later. The band continued to tour in support of the release, despite it’s initial poor distribution and promotion, leading the band to re-release it in 2005 through their official website. The toured along with Vixen and later with Motorhead, as well as appearing at numerous festivals in Europe. The band were then dealt a blow in 2007, when original guitarist Kelly Johnson passed away after a six year battle with spinal cancer. The band then recorded a new album, "Legacy," which was largely a tribute to their fallen comrade, as well as a celebration of their thirtieth anniversary and since then have continued to tour across Europe, including yet another tour with Motorhead in 2009, which also featured punk legends The Damned. The band are currently working on a re-recording of their "Hit And Run" album, to celebrate it’s thirtieth anniversary.

Girlschool - "Yeah Right"

Girlschool - "Demolition Boys"

Girlschool - "Please Don't Touch" with Motorhead

Girlschool - "Play Dirty"

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com for four years and has been a metal fan for ten years, going so far as to travel abroad for metal shows.

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17 Comments on "Sunday Old School: Girlschool"

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RTB's avatar

Member

1. RTB writes:

Call me crazy, but i always had the hots for jackie..
My deep dark secret..
Havent seen them live but hope they comeback to the states one day...
Very cool band, and a good one as well
Another gem Oz

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 11:42 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Rychemn's avatar

Member

2. Rychemn writes:

Lemmy really likes these girls.....another great band from the day when only two other groups had chicks that kicked ass....the Runaways and Heart....GS was very, very underrated in their day and never really seemed to get a fair shake in the states......Great article Oz...(as always)

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 12:09 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
IrishMetal's avatar

Member

3. IrishMetal writes:

Saw them supporting Motorhead on the last tour, solid band, but nothing amazing.

Still, hard for wimmen to break into hard rock back in the day, so respect to them for that.

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 1:50 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
4. R Tenney writes:

I only Know of Girlschool thru the Motorhead connection. Always loved the duet Please Don't Touch. Didn't they also do a cover of Bomber? If so it was an interesting take! God do I wish I could say I saw that :Overkill: tour. Fast Eddie Clarke @ Philthy Phil!

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 2:03 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
brandedcfh420's avatar

Member

5. brandedcfh420 writes:

RT: my motorhead review is up in the forums!!

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 2:51 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

6. Diamond Oz writes:

I saw them supporting Motorhead too IM. 09 yeah? Likewise I thought they were solid and enjoyed them a fair amount. Thanks for the compliments lads!

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 2:55 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
7. R Tenney writes:

So Branded your ears still ringing? I take it your coming around after having the ton of bricks dropped on yer head eh? I'm dealing with a somewhat out dated smartphone here so I don't know if I can check your review. Browser limited on this fossil. Only source of net for me. I'm thinking u left the show last night picking up your jaw off the ground?

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 3:04 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
brandedcfh420's avatar

Member

8. brandedcfh420 writes:

RT: My ears are at about 40% functioning capabilty right now!! hahahaha Motrhead kicked fkn a$$, but CLUTCH ruled the night!!!

Clutchs set list:
Who's Been Talking
Arizona...??
The Soapmakers
Burning Beard
Hobgoblins
Texan Book Of The Dead
50,000 Unstoppable Watts
Struckdown
The Mob Goes Wild (the song I wanted to hear the most!!!)
Nuevo 6/8
Electric Worry

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 3:47 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
hellrat's avatar

Member

9. hellrat writes:

wow mate, what a surprise....brings back some ANCIENT fvcking memories

my older half-brother was my metal mentor, and had that record with race with the devil on it...i remember rifling through his stash at 8 or 9 years old and i thought that Girlschool were dudes!

not hard to imagine in them times eh! :)

anyway, neat to learn a bit more about them as i never really got into the band....also reminds me of some others of the era

has SOS done Krokus? or hell, Quiot Riot??

them could be good ones as well!

Thanks Oz

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 7:42 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

10. Diamond Oz writes:

Haven't done Krokus yet but they're a good shout. There was one on Quiet Riot though a few months ago when they announced they were coming back with a new singer. Here ya go.

http://www.metalunderground.com/news/details.cfm?newsid=60026

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 7:59 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
11. R Tenney writes:

Yea Krokus ; the Swiss version of AC:DC. Long stick goes boom! Ballroom Blitz! Not too many people have heard of them. But I remember em well!

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 8:09 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

12. Diamond Oz writes:

Don't forget Eat The Rich there Tenney ;) I'll add them to my list, which is pretty massive as it is :P

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 8:15 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
13. R Tenney writes:

HR your lucky to have had the older brother:mentor! I found out about metal through a magazine called Creem. And oz ;looking forward to the Krokus piece. I believe Ballroom Blitz was a Slade song! But Krokus was great nonetheless. Part of my youth.

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 8:38 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Diamond Oz's avatar

Senior News Correspondent

14. Diamond Oz writes:

Nope, Ballroom Blitz was by The Sweet, another British glam band. They had a song called "Fox On The Run" which was covered by Girlschool, which brings us full circle lol.

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 8:49 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
RTB's avatar

Member

15. RTB writes:

Idk, maybe because im on my 8th.heineken of the night at this moment, i lmfao at tenneys metal magazine in post13
WTF!

# Mar 6, 2011 @ 10:59 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Anonymous Reader
16. 80smetalman writes:

Saw Girlschool twice, I was fairly impressed.

# Mar 7, 2011 @ 6:59 AM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address
Rychemn's avatar

Member

17. Rychemn writes:

Don't forget "Screaming in the Night" guys.....and speaking of the band Sweet, does anyone remember the album they did called "Give us a Wink"?......a truly underrated album.

# Mar 7, 2011 @ 2:23 PM ET | IP Logged Reveal posts originating from the same IP address

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