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Pioneers of the NWOBHM: Girlschool and Rock Goddess.

(TheBRHM.com) It’s Women’s History Month and we’re going into several bands headed up by women, featuring them, or just solo projects. Our first two up are old school bands from England: Rock Goddess and Girldchool.

A Tale of Two All-Woman Bands

Formed in London in 1977, Rock Goddess is sometimes said to predate Girlschool by a year. I mention this because Girlschool is rightfully lauded for their albums and being a part of the influential New Wave of British Heavy Metal as an all-woman band.

Then you have those who will say “Well, Rock Goddess came first!” The thing here is that Girlschool originally formed under a different name—Painted Lady—in 1975. It’s the same as Black Sabbath and Judas Priest forming under different names.

Even if we take that element out or get really specific, Girlschool also released material before Rock Goddess. For any artist, works are evidence of your competency and skill at your craft.

However, released works are proof that you are actually a part of that field. A musician who creates music but doesn’t release it is an artist or a musician. One who releases their work for others to take in is an entertainer, a performer.

Both bands are performers but as it usually happens it comes down to who got their stuff out first. It can distort history until clarification is made and even then the fact that you were first with no work close to that period is a footnote at best.

To the credit of Rock Goddess, the band wasn’t out here yelling that they were here first for over 40 years. I mean, that only works when a band has a ton of released material in all the time post their declared formation.

All of that aside, let’s dive into both of these pioneers’ debuts.

Girlschool – Demolition (1980)

Girlschool is a band that can play pop-leaning metal and hard rock or just straight-up, slightly speedy metal. Their most remembered album is probably the joint Headgirl album with Motorhead called St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

Released in 1981, the EP raised a few eyebrows over what it meant for Motorhead’s direction. Actually, what it meant for Girlschool was never heavily touched on. We’ll get into the EP on a separate review.

Demotion is something of a mix. There heavy songs thanks to the punk element of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and some catchy hard rock.

For a debut album and being right in that pocket when metal was rising and hard rock was steady, this was a good first strike. There’s something here for rock fans and—as expected—it varies in quality.

Girlschool-ROCKGODDESS-2021

Some songs really hit it out of the park for Girlschool while others will just come off as standard fare. It you’ve heard any hard rock from that late-70s to early-80s period, you’ve heard most of it.

You might not have heard epics that define the genre but you’ll know the sound and lyrical approach. The most important thing about Demolition is that it is a marker for the potential that Girlschool had early on.

There are a lot of what ifs and couch producing when it comes to music but Girlschool would’ve really been on to something if they had just built on their sound from Demolition. This album had youthful energy and took a streetwise approach to life, partying, and relationships.

As far as tracks to peep “Emergency”, “Midnight Ride”, and the cover of “Ride with the Devil” stand out. That’s a particularly safe list as “Emergency” was a hit and I don’t think I’ve heard a bad cover of “Ride with the Devil”.

Standout Tracks: Race with the Devil (The Gun cover)*, Emergency*, Midnight Ride, Deadline

Rock Goddess – Rock Goddess (1983)

This album just rocks start to finish! Girlschool was working with something of a handicap by releasing music during a period where most of the standout names of the NWOBHM period were dropping albums.

The issue didn’t come from being overshadowed, most of these bands formed within that 1975-1980 period. It stems from heavy metal being bent into something else by a new generation.

Both Girlschool and Rock Goddess were a part of that wave but Rock Goddess released their debut in the second half. In a three year period bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon, Def Leppard, and Venom were already names and doing international tours.

As far as what would work commercially from the wave, these bands established it. Rock Goddess dropped and was actually well within those parameters. The band had a some of the street-savvy edge of Motorhead while having a tempo and approach more in line with Saxon.

Actually, I’d say their debut is a cleaner version of a landmark self-titled album from the NWOBHM period: Iron Maiden. It’s punchy and packs a lot of energy out of the gate.

There are very few debuts that are just great. Even Demolition was just good but this album is what Girlschool should’ve been in 1983: dirty street energy. This album is polished but it’s not plastic.

I mean, they both pretty had the same lyrical direction this would’ve been the natural progression of Girlschool had it stuck to the metal road and not aim for a commercial sound.

That said, most bands have that change in sound either to grow with the times or to shoot for a larger audience.

Standout Tracks: Take Your Love Away, My Angel*, Satisfied Then Crucified, Heavy Metal Rock n Roll

Staff Writer; James Swift, Jr.

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.