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'The Bronze' Years (4CD Box)
(Lemon/Cherry Red)

Joe Geesin

joe geesin


The all-girl face of NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal), Girlschool, produced (and in fact still continue to do so) some damn fine rock music and from the outset soon transcended any gimmick angle that some labelled them with.

The music would soon stick two fingers up at any doubters, the music slotted right into the NWOBHM movement with a hint of blues to the Metal guitar, and a punky background to boot.

Formed in the late 70s out of the ashes of cover band Painted Lady, Girlschool took their name from a Wings b-side and featured drummer Denise Dufort, rhythm guitarist/vocalist Kim McAuliffe, lead guitarist/vocalist Kelly Johnson and bassist/vocalist Enid Williams.

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They recorded 'Take It All Away' for an independent label in December 1978 and soon struck up a friendship with Motörhead and their manager which led to a record deal with Bronze. That's where this collection comes in, collecting their first four albums together with singles and b-sides, nicely individually packaged and boxed with a booklet.

1980s debut, 'Demolition', was the punkiest of the lot, a slight rough'n'ready feel. 'Demolition Boys' and 'Not For Sale' open in fine barnstorming fashion, and a decent cover of The Gun's 'Race With The Devil' stands out. 'Emergency' is a well-known number too, often played live. The album is bolstered with the single b-side 'Furniture Fire'.

The follow up, 1981s 'Hit And Run' (also originally issued on red vinyl, and with a slightly altered track listing in Canada) was the band's most successful and perhaps best known. The album's three singles included the catchy title track (and a Top Of The Pops appearance), while 'C'Mon Let's Go' is a perfect (and kicking) album opener. 'Yeah Right' had attitude, and there's a cover of ZZ Top's 'Tush' to boot.


Bonus tracks include a couple of live b-sides, and the legendary Headgirl track 'Please Don't Touch'. The duet with label-mates Motörhead saw the band play Top Of The Pops and, like the two b-sides, saw Girlschool's Denise playing the drums as Motörhead's Phil Taylor was recovering from a broken neck. Oops.

With Williams replaced by Killjoys bassist Gil Weston, 1982s 'Screaming Blue Murder' has a more solid and polished sound. Whether through touring abroad, pressure from the label or just growing up themselves it was certainly less punky; it was smoother, but the music was just as melodic and just as good.

The title track opens in a catchy singalong Metal way. 'Don't Call It Love' has a chunky heavy riff and a decent solo – I do with this and the title track would enter the live setlist. The obligatory cover is the Rolling Stones' 'Live With Me'.

1983s 'Play Dirty' saw another change in sound – partly due to the production from Slade's Noddy Holder and Jim Lea. Slightly softer, certainly a little more commercial, but there's still some cracking tracks here, especially 'Going Under', 'Breakout' and the Slade track 'Burning In The Heat'. There's also a cover of T-Rex's '20th Century Boy'.

Amongst the bonus tracks is '1-2-3-4 Rock n' Roll' – a track given to them by the label and disliked so much it was never finished – only to be completed by editing in the studio.

With declining sales, and Kelly Johnson's departure soon after the album's release leading to the US tour not happening, the band parted company with the nearly bankrupt label and that completes this marvellously presented set.

Although the individual albums have been issued many times (along with numerous compilations), and this is a re-push of a box that was issued last year, this is good value for money and an excellent way to plug any gap in your collection. Sadly they don't include the BBC material that was included on the Sanctuary issues, but they're still pretty comprehensive.

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