Great Metal Albums of 1983: Girlschool- Play Dirty
During the torrent of new wave of British heavy metal, (NWOBHM), Girlschool were somewhere in the middle. They weren’t mentioned in the same breath as the giants of the time but they were better known than other bands like Diamond Head and Raven. True, their music didn’t get the airplay it deserved but most metalheads in 1983 knew who they were. I was fortunate on one occasion in the year to catch one of the few times the title track from the album, “Play Dirty,” got played on MTV.
“Play Dirty” marked a change in direction for Girlschool towards a more softer rock sound. Some would compare them to Def Leppard, really? However, the softer sound comes out with the first two tracks on the album. It is the first time, to my knowledge, that keyboards were ever used on a Girlschool album. Those tracks aren’t bad but they aren’t real headbangers either. Things do go much heavier with the third one, the title track. Even then, there are keyboards at the bridges on the song and though I have to admit, they compliment that part of the song well, it took me a couple of listens to get used to it. Besides, Kelly Johnson’s guitar solo on said song makes counters any keyboards.
Track four, a cover of T-Rex’s “20th Century Boy,” marks a definite return to more traditional ground. I get the feeling that the band had a lot of fun recording this cover because it sounds good. Marc Bolan would have been proud. Even if he’s not, “Play Dirty” goes even harder after that with “Breaking All the Rules.” Now this song sounds like the Girlschool I knew and love. Keyboards are used again on “Burning in the Heat” but only as a scary movie type introduction. Something I give Ozzy credit for starting but done by many metal bands then and now. After this introduction comes more traditional Girlschool. For me, it’s probably the best lesser known track on the album.
After wowing with those more harder songs, things go back to the sound of the opening tracks. Keyboards a plenty here for I get the feeling that on “Surrender” that they were trying for a Night Ranger or Journey type hit single. However, it wasn’t released as one so this is a paradox that baffles me. It’s still a cool song and Kelly nails another cool guitar solo. The keyboards die with that song because “Rock Me, Shock Me” is a true Girlschool anthem. They should have played that on the radio but that’s the good thing about buying albums. You get to play the best songs from them that radio won’t play to yourself. The closer is a good rocker and the title has me wondering. In Britain, knob is a slang term in the media so I wonder if they were attacking the media or at least some person in it.
- Going Under
- High and Dry
- Play Dirty
- 20th Century Boy
- Breaking All the Rules
- Burning in the Heat
- Rock Me, Shock Me
- Running for Cover
- Breakout (Knob in the Media)
Kim McAuliffe- rhythm guitar, lead vocals tracks 3,5,7,8,9,10
Kelly Johnson- lead guitar, lead vocals tracks 1,2,4,6
Gil Weston- bass, backing vocals
Denise Dufort- drums
Additional backing vocals: Lemmy, Vicky Blue, Marc Haircut
Don Garbutt- keyboards
While I like the album, “Play Dirty” marked a downward turn in Girlschool’s fortunes. Kim McAuliffe would leave shortly after the release and the US tour would never materialize. Shame, I would have loved to have seen them. That wouldn’t come for another two years but still, even with the keyboards, “Play Dirty” is still a decent album.
Next post: Virgin Steele- Guardians of the Flame
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This entry was posted on February 7, 2017 at 6:51 pm and is filed under 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags all female bands, British, Classic Rock, Girlschool, hard rock, Heavy Metal, Heavy Rock, Marc Bolan, MTV, NWOBHM, Play Dirty, T-Rex, The 1980s. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.