Kim McAuliffe - vocals, guitar; Kelly Johnson - guitar, vocals; Denise Dufort - drums; Gil Weston - bass, vocals
Back in the late '70s and early '80s when there were still only a handful of all-girl bands in America, and virtually none in the U.K., Girlschool came blasting out of merry ole England with a hard-edged rock sound, punk attitude, and more black leather than Judas Priest. Fronted by vocalist/rhythm guitarist Kim McAuliffe, Girlschool has been a presence in music on and off for nearly 30 years, and in their prime (circa this show in 1984), the band was probably the best all female band on the international music scene. They were so good they were asked to open a world tour for Deep Purple and won the total support of Motorhead madman Lemmy, who introduced them to millions of metal fans.
This recording, captured for the King Biscuit Flower Hour, in, of all places, Nashville, Tennessee, is a prime example of just how strong this lineup was musically. In addition to McAuliffe, Girlschool at this time was made up of bassist Gil Weston, lead guitarist Kelly Johnson, and powerhouse drummer Denise Dufort. In the audience were members of KISS, and the band sometimes had to borrow Aerosmith's gear. Fortunately, both bands shared the same tour manager.
The group, admittedly, owed a tremendous influential debt to American expat Suzi Quatro (who was a top charting rock act in the U.K. between 1973 and 1975), and of course, the Runaways (the first U.S. female punk band that launched the careers of Joan Jett and Lita Ford). McAuliffe, Johnson and Dufort began in 1977, as a band called Painted Lady. Also on board was a female bass player from Texas named Kathy Valentine. Valentine would suddenly get deported from the U.K. over an expired work visa, but surfaced in 1980, in Los Angeles, as a founding member of a band called the Go Gos.
Painted Lady regrouped (with original bassist member, Enid Williams), as Girlschool and were signed to Dave Robinson's Stiff Records label. Stiff, a pioneer in the U.K. new wave/punk scene, released the first Girlschool album, Demolition, in 1980. They immediately charted in the U.K. with a remake of the song "Race With The Devil," originally cut in 1969 by guitar hero Paul Gurvitz and his band, Gun. "Race With The Devil" remained their show closer for years.
On Stiff, Girlschool was in the company of several other landmark acts, including Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Graham Parker, and Ian Dury. Although the band had more accessible pop-oriented songs, they were standouts in their metallic style and punk vocals. The band made four albums with Stiff, including Play Dirty, which they were promoting at the time of this show. Most of the band's best known songs are featured here, including "Screaming Blue Murder," "Play Dirty," "You Got Me," "Hit And Run" and "Demolition Boys." They also offer up some surprises, including a re-make of ZZ Tops' "Tush" and "I like It Like That," an extended jam used to introduce the members of Girlschool to the audience, then fuses into an impromptu version of "I Like It Like That." Finally, a bouncy cover of the 1972 T-Rex classic, "20th Century Boy" rounds out their hour-long set.