Album review: GIRL – Wasted Youth

GIRL - Wasted Youth

Cherry Red Records [31.01.20]

Arguably, Girl was simply the launching pad for Phil Lewis – later to join The LA Guns; Phil Collen – later to join Def Leppard, and Gerry Laffy – later to carve out a significant career in the world of movies, music videos and mixed media art.

As a rock band, they burned bright but faded all too quickly. Formed in London in 1980, they were born to play live. Once their legendary 3 night gig at the Marquee had been immortalised in vinyl (1981), they were in demand all over the UK, and significantly (from a financial standpoint) in Japan.

The follow up to the debut, “Sheer Greed” (1980) was the band’s second, and last album, titled “Wasted Youth” (1983). And on it they’re still cutting manfully against the grain of UK contemporary rock of that era. Typically, the torqued up, screwed down hard rock of the title track, and Lewis’s sneering, whiplash vocal on ‘Overnight Angels’ were both lockstep with the lean, mean rock machine the band had become.

The second disc here “Killing Time” is a gargantuan, 20 track journey through what might have been. These are the tracks that either missed the cut for albums 1 and 2 or were recorded in readiness for album number 3. The two Russ Ballard covers, ‘Juliet’ and ‘Love Is A Game’ plus a pumped up cover of the Kinks’ ‘You Really Got Me’ are probably the picks.

CDs 3 through 6 see the band treading the boards in Tokyo, The Hamersmith Odeon and the Birmingham Odeon (twice), kicking off the live concert sequence on CD3 with the aforementioned “Live At The Marquee” in 1981. It is one powerful performance with many standouts, but ‘Ice In The Blood’ – a rock’n’roll terracing chant, wrapped up in barbed but beautifully crafted Hendrixian voodoo magic from Laffy and Collen – is head and shoulders above everything else.

Given a limited choice of parent material, songs from the debut “Sheer Greed” and “Killing Time” (eventually released in 1999) are liberally peppered through the Japanese and UK gigs on CDs 4,5 and 6. At each gig, they come out hard and fast, buzzing with an overload of energy. You can clearly hear the unmitigated punk chutzpah of The Stooges in songs like ‘Hollywood Tease’ and ‘Lovely Lorraine’, but ‘Heartbreak America’ and ‘Old Dogs’ point emphatically (and perhaps longingly) toward the stadiums of the USA, latching onto the stadium rock that grew out of the previous decade.

On every recording, studio or live, you can feel the constant, seismic rumble of a band on the move, staking out its territory, laying it all down, and all in the space of three intense years. Then it was over.

Review by Brian McGowan

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