Girlschool – The School Report 1978-2008

The School Report 1978-2008 Box Set Cover Art

Girlschool – The School Report 1978-2008
Cherry Red
Release Date: 27/01/22
Running Time: 06:04:04
Review by Simon Black

This is a monster of a package. 

Now, I’ve become quite a fan of what the folks over at Cherry Red do recently. Whilst still championing plenty of new material from established acts (they are the new home of Lawnmower Deth for example), this label seems to have acquired the rights to an awful lot of material going back many decades across the Rock, Metal, UK 80’s Punk and Pop and almost anything you care to mention. They have been lavishly reissuing material that has been pretty hard to come by for some time – with highly polished clean up’s of the recordings and some real top-quality packaging and supporting booklets. We love them here at Ever Metal, because they spoil us rotten in an age where certain labels arrogantly think a last minute stream-only private link released mere hours before public release date and gone hours later on the same date is sufficient notice to review, and for which we should be very bloody grateful. Yeah right – you know we don’t get paid for this, right? Well Cherry Red are old school, so we actually get the high-quality MP3’s well in advance (which we generally need given the size of some of them) and occasionally some nice physical copies as well. That’s because their market is collectors and they absolutely get that a collector is happy to pay real money for something a little bit special. The effort they put into the product deserves that outcome and this is no exception.

Girlschool rode the back of the NWOBHM movement and their close working relationship with Motörhead is well documented, but the reality is they had cut their chops way before then. Formed in 1975 as Painted Lady, the band started as everybody had to in those days as a pub rock band playing covers. And that’s why I am actually starting this review with the 5th CD in this box set, which is a rare as rocking horse shit live recording of a gig from that period. Now obviously a recording from a London pub circa 1978 on an old reel to reel two track miked to the unmixed playback in a sweaty pub is far from the best source material. Even the best of desk and software geeks is going to struggle to get anything vaguely representing a quality audio recording out of this, so don’t expect miracles in this department on this recording, but what you do get is a very clear direction of travel of what was to come. With a set of covers this is a band whose musical chops and tightness jump out of the decades and surprise you. At the end of the first track, a long-lost punter can be heard proclaiming with cockney deadpan surprise that “Actually they’re alright”. When you get past the obvious late 60’s or early 70’s middle of the road Hard Rock shit that bands of that era have to play in the Hope & Wanker in the East End (or whatever), you can hear the building blocks of what would become that distinctive sound, and it’s the tracks in the set that allow more of an instrumental break and some vocal harmonies that stand above the naffness of a slaughtered version of ‘Smoke On The Water’. 

After that it’s back to the start of the set which cherry picks its way through the recording history of the now rebranded Girlschool, starting with the original 7” releases that broke them out of the pub circuit. Right from the rough and ready first version of ‘Take It All Away’, the difference is tangible, and added to the harmonics and sheer playing ability is that magic rawness and song-writing edge that adds to the mix and starts to sound like the band we know and love. That edge is very much fuelled by the background trend of the day – Punk. No doubt a part of the still pub-focused act needed to incorporate at least some aspects of the energy of the still unfolding, but starting to wind down Punk movement (as at this point we’re still a little way off of NWOBHM’s big breakout), but the natural step from one to the other unfolds across that first disk spectacularly. The arrangements have more complexity and melody, the playing outshines Punk’s bare bones approach whilst retaining the attitude and the rough edges that need to in the song-writing and performances slowly peel away to reveal the tight knit early Metal act they would become, and indeed still are to this day. The first three disks take a tour through their back catalogue (excluding the last decade) with more weighting given to the earlier material from their prolific early 1980’s period.

Disk 2 feels like a completely different band though, and not in a good way. This includes material from “Play Dirty” through to “Nightmare At Maple Cross” and the contrast to the pure Punk-infused NWOBHM of their first three albums is stark and jarring. By this time, Metal in the 1980’s has transmogrified into big hair, overtight spandex, unroadworthy heels and insane amounts of hairspray – and that was just the boys. Recordings in this period were similarly adopting a more fat, lavish and overproduced sound in a desperate attempt to break American radio. To be fair, this is exactly what the band no doubt at the behest of the label were trying to achieve with the more AOR / Glam friendly sound, and with the addition of a keys player and the change of vocals and guitars (as Kelly Johnson quit early after the gruelling punishment that a full USA toilet tour entails took its toll) then yes, it really does sound different. 

Sadly, it accomplished nothing in terms of penetrating that fickle market and alienated the core fanbase back home. Although some of the material is well done for the period compared to some of what the decade thrust upon us (and Girlschool as always do give it their all), it’s just not what I want to hear from them and it’s no surprise that even though they continued to be prolific for the remainder of that decade, their appeal and upward trajectory lost some of its thunder at this point. What you gained in terms of production, was lost in song-writing for me plus the energy and that edgy rawness that their early years had in buckets, and I am quite grateful when this disk is over. 

Come Disk 3 and clearly Girlschool think so too, as their last album of their original run in 1992 the eponymous “Girlschool” keeps some of the production polish but brings the raw edginess and back-to-basics of heavy NWOBHM just in time for Grunge to completely screw all things Metal up for a while. And that’s sadly the point, they recovered their Hard Rock / Metal roots just as they were about to go out of fashion. But lesson learned and they’ve stuck to those guns ever since. It took them ten full years to release another studio album, although they reconstituted their line up and toured their butts off in this period and by then both the band and the market are sure about what they want to see and hear. From here on in really the mix between the ages is generally spot on, with the added advantage of all that more modern production values can bring. For me this is one of the more interesting parts of this set, as to be honest apart from catching them live occasionally, my awareness of their studio albums post-1989 was non-existent, and it’s nice to see them distil all of the best of their roots with all that modern metal demands. 

Disk 4 is again where the collectors are going to be happy, peppered with B sides, alternate and demo versions and all that you would expect and with twenty-three of them on the disk, you get your value for money. Well, you do that anyway, given that there’s a whopping 103 songs in this set and an insane six plus hours of run time plus a really nicely produced booklet with interviews to go with it. I can’t really fault the set – it’s been beautifully assembled with care, love and attention, and the only thing stopping me giving it top marks is that it had to include the dreaded AOR-school era material in order to be complete.

Female Motörhead clones? Fuck off! Girlschool are one of the strongest and most influential bands of that period, and like contemporaries Saxon still delivering the goods all these years later. So, buy the fucking set and go and see a show!

‘Please Don’t Touch’ Video 


(OK, here goes)

Disc 1 – Demolition Girls (1979-1983)
01. Take It All Away (A-side)
02. It Could Be Better (B-side)
03. Emergency
04. Nothing To Lose
05. Demolition Boys
06. Not For Sale
07. Take It All Away
08. Breakdown
09. Race With The Devil
10. Yeah Right
11. Please Don’t Touch (with Motörhead)
12. Hit And Run
13. The Hunter
14. (I’m Your) Victim
15. Watch Your Step
16. C’mon Let’s Go
17. Tush
18. Don’t Call It Love (Wildlife EP)
19. Screaming Blue Murder
20. It Turns Your Head Around
21. You Got Me
22. Take It From Me
23. 1-2-3-4 Rock And Roll

Disk 2 – Playing Dirty (1983-1988)
01. 20th Century Boy
02. Play Dirty
03. Running For Cover
04. High & Dry
05. Going Under
06. Burning In The Heat
07. Nowhere To Run
08. Are You Ready?
09. Let Me Go
10. Running Wild
11. Love Is A Lie
12. Nasty Nasty
13. Back For More
14. All Day All Night
15. You’ve Got Me (Under Your Spell)
16. Let’s Go Crazy
17. Play With Fire
18. Head Over Heels
19. Action
20. Love At First Bite
21. Too Hot To Handle

Disc 3 – Still Not That Innocent (1992-2015)
01. My Ambition
02. Can’t Say No
03. Can’t Do That
04. Take Me I’m Yours
05. Innocent
06. Knife
07. Coming Your Way
08. Mad Mad Sister
09. Let’s Get Hard
10. Secret
11. You Say
12. Passion
13. Other Side
14. I Spy (Dio/Iommi Mix)
15. Legend
16. Metropolis

Disc 4 – I Told You So – Singles, B-Sides (1980-1983)
01. Furniture Fire (B-side)
02. Nothing To Lose (7″ edit)
03. Bomber (St Valentine’s Day)
04. Emergency (St Valentine’s Day)
05. Tonight (B-side)
06. Demolition Boys (Live B-side)
07. Tonight (Live B-side)
08. Wildlife
09. Don’t Stop
10. Tush
11. Don’t Call It Love
12. 1-2-3-4 Rock And Roll (ext ver)
13. Like It Like That (B-side)

Demos (1978-2002)
14. Let’s Spend The Night Together
15. Just Don’t Care
16. Nothing To Lose
17. Baby Doll
18. Not For Sale
19. Running Wild
20. Love Is A Lie
21. I Told You So
22. Have A Nice Day
23. London

Disc 5 – The Pre-School Years – Painted Lady Live (1978)
01. I Wanted To Boogie
02. Be My Lover
03. Smoke On The Water
04. King of The Blues
05. Sometime World
06. Rub It In
07. I Saw You Standing There
08. All Along The Watchtower
09. Paper Plane
10. Johnny B. Goode
11. Shoot Shoot
12. How Can I Tell You
13. Can’t Get Enough
14. All Right Now
15. Knocking On Heaven’s Door
16. Gimme Some Loving
17. Honky Tonk Women
18. Change’s Coming
19. Hey Joe
20. You Keep Me Hanging On

Denise Dufort – Drums
Kim McAuliffe – Vocals, Guitars
Jackie Chambers – Guitars (2000-present)
Tracey Lamb – Bass (1987-1991, 1992-2000, 2019-present)
Kelly Johnson – Guitars (1978-1983, 1993-2000)
Enid Williams – Bass, Vocals (1978-1982, 2000-2019)
Gil Weston – Bass (1982-1987)
Cris Bonacci – Guitars (1983-1992)
Jackie Bodimead – Vocals, Keyboards (1983-1986)
Jackie Carrera – Bass (1992)


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Rose Tattoo and Girlschool, Voodoo Lounge, Dublin, 8th September 2018


Rose Tattoo and Girlschool
Voodoo Lounge, Dublin
8th September, 2018
Review by Graham Horne

I arrived at the venue just before doors opened and there was already a queue of old rockers (I actually didn’t feel like the oldest one there for a change) starting to stretch its way down the road. I’ve not been to the Voodoo Lounge before and was surprised at how small and narrow it was. It was quite a nice bar (5 euros a pint, not bad for Dublin) and a seating area at the back, then a long narrow area to the stage. The stage is very small and there is no rear exit from the stage so all the artists and equipment have to somehow squeeze pass the punters, which seemed a bit of a nightmare for stage crew during change over.

Anyway, onto the bands. Up first were Girlschool who I have seen a few times since the heady days of ‘79. The band were on fire, kicking things off with ‘Demolition’, mixing the old classics, (and with a nod to Dio and Lemmy ) tracks from Legacy and Guilty As Sin. The years just rolled away for me and I felt like a teenager again. Listening to them playing most of their classic songs, ‘Hit And Run’, ‘Yeah Right’, ‘Race With The Devil etc, it’s hard to believe that the girls have been doing this for almost 40 years and they still look like they are enjoying it!

Now I have seen Rose Tattoo before (at Wacken) and thought they were good then, but in a small, tightly packed, sweaty pub they were amazing. This band are meant to be heard live. Starting off with ‘One Of The Boys, they played a good mix of classics such as ‘Rock n Roll Outlaw’, Assault And Battery’, ‘Butcher And Fast Eddie’, ‘Scarred For Life’, ‘Rock And Roll Is King’, and later tracks ‘1845’ and ‘Man About Town’, only pausing for Mr Anderson (swigging from a bottle of Stones Ginger Wine) to preach to the converted in between songs and deal with the odd heckler in the only way he can. By the time they got to ‘Astra Wally’ the crowd and band were sweating like a dingo’s dangly bits. It was hot in there I can tell you. They finished things off with ‘Nice Boys’, and then they were gone and everyone filed out with big grins on their faces, knowing they had seen a special gig.

Rose Tattoo Setlist
One Of The Boys
Juice On The Loose
Man About Town
Assault And Battery
Rock n Roll Outlaw
Butcher And Fast Eddie
Once In A Lifetime
Rock n Roll Is King
Bad Boy For Love
Scarred For Life
Astra Wally
We Can’t Be Beaten
Nice Boys


Rose Tattoo:

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Graham Horne and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.