UK label Dissonance are re-releasing the first three Girlschool albums next month, and there’s not too much to choose between the three of them if truth be told; My personal favourite is the band’s second album, Hit and Run, but the band’s third effort, Screaming Blue Murder is probably most representative of the band overall so I decided to review this one instead…
Originally released in 1982, Screaming Blue Murder was the release that finally saw Girlschool moving out of the shadows of their poptastic collaboration with Motörhead, Please Don’t Touch, which had been a hit in early 1981. With the aid of cracking self-written tunes like Don’t Call It Love (a massive hit single that never was) and the admittedly Motörheady Hellrazor as well as a great cover of Jagger and Richards’ excellent Let it Bleed composition Live With Me the band finally really established their own, strong identity on this album.
Part of the reason for this artistic success was their move from using Motörhead producer Vic Maile (who they’d used for both previous albums and, of course, that HeadGirl collaboration) to Nigel Green. Green had worked with established pop acts like The Police and was able to get some great performances from the band, especially Kim McAuliffe who had never sounded better vocally than on SBM. In fact she outsings her more storied counterpart, the late Kelly Johnson throughout the record, especially giving a superb, sexy and gritty performance on When Your Blood Runs Cold. Johnson doesn’t let the side down, however, giving a great performance of her own on the jaunty You Got Me.
Listening now it’s important to note how well SBM has aged; It certainly sounds better than the two more commercially-minded albums that followed it, Play Dirty (1983) and 1985’s clunky Running Wild (what are you talking about? That’s a great album! – Ed), and it’s hard to see – usual poor management and bad luck stories aside – why this album didn’t catapult the band into a bigger arena than it actually did. Tracks like the punky Flesh & Blood were a real departure for the band and showed just how much they’d matured as writers and performers, a maturation process that certainly suggested they were ready for a step up.
Still, that’s another story for another time, for now just give thanks to Dissonance for breathing new life into these albums and get down your local record shop and check Screaming Blue Murder out!
Screaming Blue Murder will be released by Dissonance on March 17th.