“I’m proud that Denise and I have kept this thing together [for so long],” said Kim McAuliffe in a Kerrang! interview in 1986. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could get through to a tenth anniversary?” Coming on for forty years since the Girlschool guitarist/vocalist said that, the band she’s fronted since its evolution from Painted Lady in in 1978 have released their fourteenth studio album ‘WTFORTYFIVE?’ And although the band have, admittedly, released a couple of clunkers in their time ‘WTFORTYFIVE?’ is an album straight from the top drawer.


[photo by Adam Kennedy]

Tracey Lamb’s opening bass rumble gives way to ‘It Is What It Is’, a number which kicks things off in traditional Girlschool style with an infectious groove, a shoutalongachorus and DNA from ‘Hit And Run’. It’s a great opener, and forms the perfect contrast to the following, quite menacing, ‘Cold Dark Heart’ which itself is offset by the more tongue-in-cheek ‘Bump In The Night.’ So far, so Girlschool, and things just keep getting better. The album’s lead single ‘Are You Ready?’ – featuring Alkatrazz’s Joe Stump – is a good ol’ fashioned Girlschool good-time work-out; ‘Party’, naturally, does exactly what it says on the tin; and surely only Girlschool could get away with a storming and sincere paean to their longstanding fans – the Girlschool Barmy Army – without any hint of cloying mawkishness. McAuliffe is on fine form throughout, Lamb and drummer Denise Dufort – the final piece of the jigsaw that marked the beginning of the band 45 years ago – keep things rock steady at the back, and one day guitarist Jackie Chambers will get the recognition she deserves as a truly talented lead player.

‘Invisible Killer’ is a bit of a plodder – and do we really need another song about Covid? – and although they round things off with a sterling take on Motörhead’s ‘Born To Raise Hell’, aided and abetted by Biff Byford, Phil Campbell and Duff McKagan, it’s a little superfluous given the quality of the rest of the material they’ve served up here. It’s isn’t ‘Demolition’ or ‘Hit And Run’, true, but it is what it is, and is all the better for it.

Video clips:
‘Are You Ready?’ -
‘It Is What It Is’ -
‘Cold Dark Heart’ -

© John Tucker July 2023