Evolving out of the late seventies New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM), Girlschool soon made it clear they weren’t there to make up the numbers and be eye candy, they were there to rock as well. They weren’t the antidote to the excesses of testosterone-fuelled hard rock, more like an attempt to level the playing field. Since then, they’ve forged quite a career and, in so doing, have become probably one of the most successful female bands in rock, and an acknowledged influence on many a younger female rock band.
So can they rock? Well, Lemmy certainly thought so, taking Girlschool on tour with Motorhead and recording the 1950s rock ‘n roll classic, ‘Please Don’t Touch,’ with them under the name Headgirl. Overhearing someone saying, ‘Kelley Johnson’s not bad on guitar for a girl,’ Lemmy retorted with ‘f**k off, she’s better than you on guitar.’ Just like Motorhead, Girlschool defy all attempts to pin a label on them. Right from their early days, they’ve straddled rock, metal and punk, though always with an emphasis on rock rather than punk.
Their new album’s title is a nod to the fact Girlschool have now racked up forty-five years of being out there rocking and, with their 14th album about to be released, the eight-year gap between this one and the last, 2015’s Guilty As Sin, has done little to dampen their appetite to want to rock.
This new album is raw and with no embellishments, meaning it’s guitar-based rock all the way with these gals. Opening up with ‘It Is What It Is’, a punky number with a driving riff, that’s full-on, with a couple of slower songs, like ‘Cold Dark Heart’ and ‘Believing In You’, thrown into the mix.
‘Barmy Army’ is a homage paid to their fanbase… “you’re the ones who’ve brought the girls to school” … and ‘Into The Night’ and ‘Up To No Good’ continue with the full-on rock vibe. But it’s ‘Born To Raise Hell’ which is the standout track, a hard rocker with vocal contributions from Biff Byford, Phil Campbell and Duff McKagan, it’s just a pity these guys won’t be onstage when they play this ‘live.’
Kim McAuliffe and Denise Dufort are now the only original members, Enid Williams having left and Kelley Johnson tragically dying of cancer in 2007 and while their leathers may be a little shopworn, their desire and ability to rock hasn’t diminished.
WTFortyfive? is out July 28th via Silver Lining Music