Let's be honest here. Girlschool haven't made a good album since 1982. Sure, there have been sporadic outbursts of recording over the years, as lineups came and went, but not many people would go to the end of the road for a new record from them. Now it's 30 years since Painted Lady (Enid Williams, Kim McAuliffe, Kelly Johnson and Denise Dufort) changed their name to Girlschool and released their debut single "Take It All Away". Something that led to a support slot on Motorhead's Overkill tour in the spring of 1979, the first encounter for many (including me) with them.
They had a few good years, but it all went pear shaped after 1982's Screaming Blue Murder when they tried to refine their biker rock into something a bit more shiny, and the intervening years haven't been kind musically. Although they can still cut it live, as I witnessed a couple of years back on a Motorhead tour, with the delightful Kim, still a vision. However, they've finally managed to get themselves back on a major label, pulled in a few favours, which sees (deep breath) Lemmy and Phil Campbell from Motorhead, ex Motorhead man Fast Eddie Clarke, J.J. French and Eddie Ojeda from Twisted Sister, Tony Iommi and Ronnie James Dio from Black Sabbath and ex everyone Neil Murray stopping by to contribute.
All star albums often fail dismally, so very sensibly the Girls start off the album with three tracks featuring just themselves (bar some percussion, courtesy of the late Kelly Johnson's ashes), and a very good start it is too, as "Everything's the Same", "From The Other Side" and "I Spy (Girlschool Mix)" kick it out as if the last 25 years had never happened. Hard, fast, rough, and ready, it's the Girlschool of old.
However, a mid section of rather dull numbers then arrive before their cover of Motorhead's "Metropolis" (with Fast Eddie taking care of the solo) arrives to turn things around again. "Don't Mess Around", "Zeitgeist" (their tribute to me) and "Don't Talk To Me", the latter featuring Lemmy on vocals, bass, and triangle(!) bring the album back to life again. The last three are some of the heaviest tracks Girlschool have laid down, and are absolute peaches.
Things finish off with a trio of bonus tracks. Another bash at "I Spy", this time with Ronnie James Dio and Tony Iommi popping in to turn it into a very Sabbathy number, a punky rush through a track called "London" and a visit back to their 1980 classic "Emergency".
What you're left with is the best album since their glory days, by a long way. Sure, it sags slightly in the middle, but there are half a dozen tracks here, as good as anything they've ever done. Their place in rock history was already assured as pioneers of women in metal, but it's good to be able to hold up an album again and cheer.