Saturday, April 18, 2009

Girlschool (and Motorhead)

Once upon at time, long, long ago (okay, the early 1980s - I'm young, don't laugh), and far, far away (unless you live in England) there were two rock bands, Motorhead and Girlschool. Motorhead almost quit playing after being voted the 'worst band ever', but got on their feet and released a couple of UK top 30 albums. Girlschool started out as 'Painted Lady', took a while to get its line up straight, released a popular single, and then began supporting Motorhead on tour. They released a top 30 album, Motorhead released a number 4 album, Girlschool released a number 5 album, Motorhead released a number 6 album. The two bands collaborated on an EP, 'St. Valentine's Day Massacre' which reached number 5 on the UK singles chart - the highest charting single either band would ever have. Motorhead reached its height a few months later with a number one album, then both bands began to decline along with heavy metal in general. Girlschool suffered from further line up problems and disbanded in 1988 without producing another hit. Motorhead kept playing, retaining some popularity from the various [speed|thrash|other]metal musicians they had influenced.

One more thing - Girlschool is an all-female band; Motorhead is an all-male band.

Interesting, isn't it?

Ever since I heard these two bands, I've always wondered what it would have been like had things happened differently. Both bands were of almost equal popularity - what if Girlschool had started a year sooner, Motorhead a year later? What if Girlschool had been a bit more popular, and Motorhead had opened for them, instead of the other way around? Would all of the *metal rockers be worshiping Girlschool? After all, the two bands sound remarkably similar:


Yet somehow, Motorhead is considered one of the great bands of their era and style, while Girlschool is almost unknown outside the UK with only a (albeit sizable) cult following. No, Girlschool didn't have anyone as flamboyant as Lemmy for the band's public face. No, they aren't quite as trashy.

And oh, yeah - sexism. It's hard to believe how horribly some Motorhead fans run down Girlschool. (I had one guy tell me that Girlschool was "some bitches that Lemmy screwed, then took with him on tour just to be nice." Of course. In reality, needless to say, the collaborations were mostly the bands' management's idea, but that doesn't stop the rabid idiots.)

But it's still interesting to wonder what could have been. Also: fun to listen to! Girlschool is touring again, despite the tragic death of one of their original members. And from what I hear, they still rock pretty hard:

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