This weekend I’ll mostly be listening to… Girlschool

It’s been a while, I know, since we’ve had a music post around here. (Enormous cheers from broad masses.) But, what with the fascinating discussion around the SWP’s perspectives debate and faction fight, traffic on this blog has been ridiculously brisk. And the ideal remedy for that is a music post, especially one relating to a band that was last in the charts before some of you were born.

And so, in a blatant steal from WorldbyStorm’s regular weekend feature, I invite you to cast your minds back to 1982 or thereabouts, and reacquaint yourselves with Girlschool. I must admit, I still greatly enjoy Girlschool. It’s not just that they knock most of today’s bands into a cocked hat. They were a breath of fresh air at the time, a group of young women who played their own instruments, wrote most of their own material, who weren’t just a bunch of pin-ups but who just flat out rocked. Here’s a representative performance from the early 1980s:

Of course, many of you will remember Girlschool, if at all, via their frequent collaborations with Motörhead, mostly as a support act on the road – something they still do – but also on the St Valentine’s Day Massacre EP. The highlight of this was a joint cover of the old Johnny Kidd and the Pirates standard “Please Don’t Touch”, which you can see below:

Not, I hasten to add, that they were simply a distaff version of Lemmy and the gang. Going back to their roots as Painted Lady in the 1970s, they had a strong glam rock influence and proved to be dab hands at glam covers. Here’s a take on T Rex:

And a somewhat later interpretation of the Sweet:

An entertaining live act, too. Here’s a performance from 1984:

And a more recent one, with the current lineup:

And, to finish things off, here’s the classic lineup, featuring the late Kelly Johnson, playing one of their old favourites, the Gun classic “Race With The Devil”. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser for nearly thirty years.

18 Comments

  1. neprimerimye said,

    December 13, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    The hard rock that bands like Girlschool delivered always strikes me as a bit of a cul de sac in terms of the development of the variious sub-genres of rock. Other than by example I doubt that they influenced anybody much at all. A shame really cos that sound, Motorhead did it fare better of course, is at the centre of post-Yardbirds rock’n’roll.

  2. chjh said,

    December 13, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Lemmy approached the organisers of the 1981 Leeds Rock Against Racism Carnival offering Motorhead’s services, on condition that we also booked Girlschool. Shamefully, they were turned down.

  3. johng said,

    December 13, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    I actually remember ‘please don’t touch’. i’d forgotten it completely. I’m entirely unsure though whether thanks is in order. :)/

  4. WorldbyStorm said,

    December 13, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Ah, Please Don’t Touch is an absolute classic… I’m not sure neprimerimye… I think it’s hard to listen to large swathes of 80s, 90s and 00s metal without hearing the Motorhead/Girlschool sound… in part because it was reenergised by punk and proto-punk. I was at Motorhead some years back and they played R.A.M.O.N.E.S and it was so easy to join the dots. Lemmy and Joey R, being great mates. And when that came around again, one hears it in Queens of the Stone Age, etc, etc…

    Now, of course there were excesses… Judas Priest spring to mind as being a case where, bar Screaming for Vengeance, the punk influenced model largely went off the rails… and I’m not much partial to Iron Maiden, etc. But then Motorhead always seemed so much more ‘grown-up’… And in fairness Lemmy was, given his history with Hawkwind…

    I’m more than half-serious about that book Splintered!

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      December 13, 2009 at 5:45 pm

      Ah now… wait till I get onto Falco…

  5. Daphne said,

    December 13, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Lemmy is cool on many levels. Like going to the Welsh Assembly and demanding decriminalisation of all drugs. And he gave Keith Emerson the knife he used to massacre his Hammond organ with.

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      December 13, 2009 at 8:24 pm

      Legend has it, that’s why Palmer had the big gong. Because Emerson wasn’t always accurate with his knife-throwing.

      • Daphne said,

        December 13, 2009 at 9:14 pm

        I’m surprised that Spinal Tap never had a drummer die of a “bizarre knife-throwing accident”.

  6. December 13, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    I’ve heard ‘Please don’t touch.’ Lemmy has a deep voice and weird facial moles. This made him interesting but freaky at same time. I am not sure if cool is the exact word to describe him.

  7. johng said,

    December 14, 2009 at 3:06 am

    I’m not sure I can cope with the idea of Lemmy having many levels.

  8. Dave O said,

    December 14, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Confessions of an old glam rocker; the band I was in circa 1983 played a few opening slots for Girlschool, as a result of which I got to know Kelly quite well. Great guitarist, wonderful human being. It’s a shame she’s no longer with us.

    One of my very favourite outfits, at all levels. Thanks, Splinty. Takes me back.

    • splinteredsunrise said,

      December 14, 2009 at 6:50 pm

      Well now, if it isn’t a small world. I did see them play the other week, and great fun it was too. Not only did they do a good set, it’s kind of heartwarming to see Kim and the girls still going.

  9. Andy Wilson said,

    December 16, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Splinty, I had you down as more of a New Wave ™ kind of guy 😉 I’m impressed by your hard rock affections – though Slade were better than any of this Girlschool / Lemmy malarky imo. Still, anything is better than Radiohead.

    Will anyone be buying the Rage Against the Machine single?

  10. Phil said,

    December 16, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    Not if anyone’s trying to tell me to.

    (And I’m afraid that many things are not better than Radiohead, Girlschool included.)

  11. splinteredsunrise said,

    December 16, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    I never liked RATM, they’re a bit too much like a harder rocking U2 for my taste. But anything to thwart X Factor.

  12. February 13, 2010 at 8:40 am

    […] album “Another Perfect Day” in the Motorhead canon (and speaking of all things Motorhead here’s a related item). It has had a contentious position in that canon. Too ‘melodic’ was […]


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