Girlschool's Enid Williams - 10 Records That Changed My Life

Enid Williams
Girlschool's Enid Williams
(Image: © Kevin Nixon)

Girlschool bassist Enid Williams has a passionate and abiding belief in music.

“I have heard musicians saying that they’re not brain surgeons. And of course brain surgeons do save lives. But then so do musicians. What I have chosen here are artists and albums which have helped me personally get through my life. They mean so much to me.”

For Williams, the connection to music has always been crucial.

“When you are a teenager, you can feel like an outsider and alone. What music did for me during that stage of my life was tell me that I was not alone. But I have to admit that sometimes choosing your 10 favourite albums is different to selection the 10 which have so massively changed your life. So, I would stress my choice here is based on the latter.”

Janis Joplin – Greatest Hits (1973)

My brother is 17 years older than me. And I used to listen to a lot of his albums on the stereo. A lot were jazz, which did not appeal to me. But he also had a compilation with the Rolling Stones, Vanilla Fudge and Joplin. And that’s where I discovered her. She was such a huge influence on me. Because she was so different to any other female vocalist of the time. I was used to Cilla Black, Dusty Springfield and those sort of singers, who were great, but Joplin was unique. She was not a pop star, but really belted out those songs. There was so much emotion in something like Move On.

Various – Motown Chartbusters Vol. 4 (1970)

Another album I discovered via my brother, and I listened to this over and over and over again. Mainly because it was where I discovered the Jackson 5. In fact, I would say it was through them that I first noticed bass playing. I have never been someone to really indulge in bass virtuosity. But when I heard the bass on something like The Love You Save, which I know is not on this compilation, it made an impression. It was out of this world. During that era, Motown had so many brilliant session musicians, like Wilton Felder (who played bass on the aforementioned Jackson 5 song), and this really struck me when I heard this compilation.

Black Sabbath – Paranoid (1970)

There was never much money in my family, so I used to get albums as presents for birthdays and Christmas. That made them special and added value. And then my library started to have a selection of albums, and that’s where I discovered Sabbath. When I heard this album, I did not know what had hit me. I was frozen to the spot by such tracks as War Pigs. I could not believe what I was hearing. So, in 2008 when Tony Iommi guested on the Girlschool album Legacy (he appeared on the song I Spy), it was a huge privilege. They had a phenomenal impact on me.

Led Zeppelin – 1 (1969)

Led Zeppelin were simply sensational. I could have chosen any of their albums – they are all amazing. This was also the first band I ever saw live. When they played at Earl’s Court in 1975, Kim (McAuliffe) and I queued up all night to get tickets; we slept on someone’s door step. It was worth all the hassle, and songs like Dazed And Confused had such an impact on me. I could have chosen other bands from this era, like Rory Gallagher and Deep Purple, but for me Zeppelin were peerless.

David Bowie – Aladdin Sane (1973)

For myself, Kim and Kelly (Johnson), David Bowie was the most influential artist in history. You may not think so from listening to Girlschool, but we absolutely loved him. I even got to meet him once. He was coming back from Japan on the train. My dad worked for the railways, and I managed to touch his arm. A song like Cracked Actor was so sleazy and brought home a feeling for New York. It was through artists like Bowie that a lot of us as kids discovered a lot about sex.

Bad Company - Bad Company (1974)

My mother knew someone who worked at a record label, and he gave her a lot of albums. Including this one. Paul Rodgers is a huge influence on my singing style, and for me Free and Bad Company are two sides of the sane coin. I knew Free singles like Alright Now. But it was this album that really connected with me. Not just because of Rodgers’ voice, but also through Mick Ralphs’ guitar playing. They were such a great combination. And whenever I hear Paul Rodgers sing, it stops me in my tracks.

Sex Pistols – Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols (1977)

I was never crazy about punk, because I was into Sabbath and Zeppelin. But to me, this is really a rock album, but one which had the energy of punk about it. The song that jumped out for me was Submission. This sounds like early Motörhead, and you can tell how this led to the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. We’d been through the era of Yes, ELP and the like, and badly needed what the Sex Pistols gave us.

Billie Holiday – Good Morning Hearache (1987)

After I left Girlschool 1982, and I’ll admit it was acrimonious, I wanted to explore a lot of different areas of music. I also wanted to do more songwriting, which had not been possible in that band. Kim and Kelly were very locked up in writing together. They were like Lennon and McCartney, while I felt like George Harrison. Because I loved the blues, I really got into this compilation from Billie Holiday. She is one of the greatest singers who ever lived. I used to perform the song Good Morning Heartache myself, and loved doing it.

Kurt Well & Bertolt Brecht – The Threepenny Opera (1928)

My mother was German, and I really was drawn towards what Weill and Brecht did. This was an opera done for the general public, and not for the elite. They were a huge part of the Berlin artistic scene when it was exciting and so dynamic. And of course the song Mack The Knife has been covered so often by so many different people. The Threepenny Opera is a great way to introduce rock fans to classical music.

Motörhead – Overkill (1979)

No, I haven’t chosen this because of the long history between Girlschool and Motörhead. But I do recall we went out on tour with them in early 1979, when they were just breaking through, and it was such a vibrant time. We learnt so much from them. And I still recall standing there every night, watching the band as they launched into the song Overkill itself. Nothing else sounded like it. Lemmy, Eddie and Phil created something remarkable. And that applies to the entire album. It means a lot to me, and brings back such fantastic memories.

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