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Girl: Sheer Greed - Album Of The Week Club review

A glam rock album released in the wrong era, Girl's Sheer Greed introduced the world to Def Leppard's Phil Collen and LA Guns' Phil Lewis

Girl: Sheer Greed album cover
(Image: © Cherry Red)
Girl: Sheer Greed

Girl: Sheer Greed album cover

(Image credit: Cherry Red)

Hollywood Tease
The Things You Say
Lovely Lorraine
Strawberries
Little Miss Ann
Doctor Doctor
Do You Love Me?
Take Me Dancing
What's Up?
Passing Clouds
My Number
Heartbreak America

Remembered chiefly for featuring singer Phil Lewis who went on to join L.A. Guns, and guitarist Phil Collen who made the very wise decision to accept an invitation to join Def Leppard, Girl had plenty of creative potential but were misunderstood by their record label, Jet, and unappreciated by a rock scene that at the time was in the denim-and-leather grip of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal

With not a hint of ‘dues-paying’ they came outta nowhere and got signed to Jet Records. Further disapproval followed when singer Lewis started seeing actress Britt Ekland when everyone else, uhm, wasn't. 

Deliberately cultivating an androgynous glam aesthetic absolutely guaranteed to bring them a sound bottling by a Reading Festival crowd, Sheer Greed was a peculiar clash of Aerosmith, Japan, Starz and New York Dolls

Cornerstone anthem Hollywood Tease kicks off a record displaying lashings of imagination and bravado, the sleazy The Things You Say, the cocky My Number and the arty pop of Strawberries all part of a bold statement of intent. It didn’t come to much, but it doesn’t make this debut any less thrilling..

Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute. 

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Other albums released in January 1980

  • Permanent Waves - Rush
  • Just Testing - Wishbone Ash
  • Pretenders - The Pretenders
  • Love Stinks - The J. Geils Band
  • God Save the Queen/Under Heavy Manners - Robert Fripp
  • Is This Real? - Wipers
  • No Place to Run - UFO
  • Rockin' Into The Night - 38 Special
  • Short Stories - Jon and Vangelis
  • Union Jacks - The Babys

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What they said...

"Start off with the ripping opening track Hollywood Tease, which rocks with the intensity of Kiss’s heaviest 1970s material, but also has that air of something a little more artsy. It’s probably the best song on the record, but followed closely by the straight-up hard rocker Doctor Doctor, a fist-pumping, head-bobbing affair that has a little more of Kiss than the glam bands. Oddly, with the influence so obvious on the two best songs on the record, probably the weakest number is their cover of Kiss’s Do You Love Me? It completely fails to capture the sleazy mood of the original. (Something Else)

"The early 80s had more than their fair share of UK bands harbouring obsessions with the USA (with Def Leppard's Hello America providing one of the best and most blatant examples), and Girl, too, looked overseas for influence on the superb 'Heartbreak America'. It mightn't offer quite as much youthful joy as the Leps, but there's definitely more of a transatlantic sound at play." (Real Gone)

"Chris Tsangarides' crisp, coherent production style kept Girl poised toward mainstream success without watering down the group's personality quotient. Lewis and his mob rose to the occasion while they hoped for a stronger riff to insure the breakout hit that only seemed three chords away. The task would prove more elusive than the boys imagined, but Sheer Greed marks a promising start. (AllMusic)

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What you said...

Alex Hayes: Man, the timing on this one couldn't have been any worse.

We've got the UK glam rock scene kicking off in the early 70s, and it's US equivalent arriving just over a decade later. Sheer Greed, the debut album from Girl, landed slap-bang in the middle and ended up missing both parties. It must have confounded the hell out of much of the 'denim and leather' NWOBHM crowd of the time. I was six, so I wouldn't really know for sure.

It's really not half bad. There's an endearing, 'cheap as chips' vibe to the whole proceedings. It gets straight to the point too. Shorter, more concise songs brimming with verve and attitude make up most of this album. No dithering or pissing about here. I like that.

In respect to Lewis and Collen, the two Phils who later went on to bigger and better things, I was far more impressed by one over the other. Lewis's spiky lead vocals do suit the material, but only just passed muster with me to be honest, whereas Collen's quality really shines through. As auditions for a proper job go, this one went well for him.

I highly doubt that I'll revisit Sheer Greed in the future. That shouldn't be taken to mean that I didn't enjoy it though. There's plenty of 'piss and vinegar' on display with this one. I like that.

Brian Carr: I knew of Girl, but hadn’t heard their stuff beyond the occasional inclusion of Hollywood Tease on a radio show I used to listen to every weekend. What a great song!

With one cursory spin through the album, the guitar work really jumped out at me, which isn’t surprising considering the personnel. Being in on LA Guns since their wonderful debut, I’ve always liked Phil Lewis’s voice a lot. Limited range, maybe, but much more melodic to my ears than Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks, who a couple of the excellent commenters brought up. I’ll rate it if I have the chance to listen at least once more, but I definitely heard enough to want to do so.

Gary Claydon: Variable. Best word I can think of to describe both band ans album. Variable in quality and a veritable smorgasbord of influences. Songs range from bland (Do You Love Me?, Passing Clouds) through flawed but interesting (Strawberries) and solid hard rock and sleaze (Hollywood Tease, The Things You Said, Take Me Dancing). Bestriding it all is the brilliant My Number with it's pulsing, insistent riff and Lewis's vocals at their spikiest. Even the "gang' vocals manage to not be too annoying.

They were pretty variable live as well. Catch them on one of their headline shows in a small, sweaty venue with a crowd who were there for them and they really could produce the goods. In bigger venues, on one of the several high profile support slots that they landed, they could struggle. I found them to be generally well received by audiences at the time, though not unanimously so, (apart from once seeing them support Pat Travers when the crowd was most definitely not simpatico and the band simply bombed). Main problem, for me, was they never had a big enough sound or presence for the larger venues.

Nice album, always worth a listen. 6.5/10

Mike Canoe: Like other club members have mentioned, Sheer Greed is an album I wanted to listen to but somehow never got around to it. I think, in part, I had always written off L.A. Guns as a Johnny-come-lately (Tracii-come-lately?) to the L.A. metal scene, mostly known for a power ballad. It's hard to tell 40 years on if Girl was behind the UK glam wave or ahead of the US glam wave, but it's a mostly enjoyable album.

I like the band best when they go "full glam" with sleazy greasy riffs and echoed background vocals like Lovely Lorraine, Little Miss Anne, or My Number. It's easy to hear why the Girl anthology is called My Number, as that seems to be their most realised song. The moody Passing Clouds is an interesting reggae/flamenco hybrid pretty far away from your typical power ballad (which I guess hadn't even been perfected yet.)

A lot of the songs like opener Hollywood Tease, Doctor Doctor, Strawberries, or Heartbreak America (No "Hello" here!), remind me of what Def Leppard was doing at the same time and it already seems obvious that Phil Collen would be a good fit for his next band. Phil Lewis isn't the greatest singer but he makes up for that with attitude and charisma. The rest of the band sounds pretty tight, multiple definitions applicable.

It turns out this week is a bit of a two-for-one deal. After liking Sheer Greed as much as I did, I checked out a L.A. Guns compilation and it turns out that they rock fairly spectacularly and Phil Lewis's voice fits them like a fingerless leather glove. Another week well spent.

John Davidson: Girl arrived about five years too late for glam and five years too early for the west coast sleaze rock glam revival, which is a shame as they showed promise even if that was mostly fulfilled by the two Phil's moving on to better known bands.

Hollywood Tease kicks off with a fairly standard NWOBHM riff and squeal guitar refrain. Things You Said is more glam - vocal with a choppy rhthym - livened up by some pretty good guitar lead work. Lovely Lorraine amps the glam up to 11 with a call and response la-la-la style stomp. Strawberries is a decent enough slice of post-punk new wave pop. Little Miss Anne shows where Mother Love Bone got their ideas from, with its glammed-up pre-grunge chorus and melody.

The rest follow a familiar pattern with the exception of a rather pointless cover of Kiss's Do You Love Me and the almost obligatory experiment with reggae beats on Passing Clouds.

Few of the songs outstay their welcome with most of them coming in under three minutes. None of them are particularly memorable, but there is some good guitar here and there and I enjoyed listening to it a few times . The best song is My Number, which combines the rockier side with some grotty glam vocal harmonies.

Keith Jenkin: One of the most interesting bands for me from The NWOBHM era. This debut had at least half a dozen cracking tunes, and live the band (especially Phil Lewis) had stacks of attitude. They undoubtably were a couple of years or so ahead of the game with the glam metal thing. Shame they never quite cut through not helped by their second album being a bit of a clunker. Still play Sheer Greed over 40 years on. Good album.

Philip Qvist: Well, the two Phils, Lewis and Collen, went onto to better and greater things - but whether that spelt the end of the band, although the Laffy Brothers did continue as Sheer Greed, or whether they left because the writing was already on the wall is probably open to debate.

Not sure where the heavy metal tag fits in - they certainly rocked but heavy metal? Not in my books. But all in all it is a decent album for its time.

Hollywood Tease is the standout track - along with Passing Clouds - while the rest of the album chugs along very nicely. What is good is the brevity of the songs, with one song just under five minutes, two just under four, and the rest all under three minutes bar one.

I probably would have bought the album at the time if it was available down here (it wasn't), but I'm not too sure about it now. A decent rocking album - pleasant but not a classic. A 7 from me.

Mark Herrington: The 1970s were a rich time for incredible, innovative rock, which probably fostered an expectation for a high bar amongst myself and my contemporaries . Van Halen’s debut made us optimistic and albums like Sabbath's Heaven And Hell started the 1980s well. The NWOBHM was largely raw and not as innovative, until the likes of Maiden matured. Girl arrived at the wrong time and were not interesting enough to most Heavy Rockers I knew.  

I bought the clear vinyl single My Number for some unknown reason in 1980. Swapped it for The Spirit Of Radio by Rush same year. Never regretted that as this was a pedestrian glam tock throwback, six years too late and not as good as Sweet and T.Rex. Sorry, but I didn’t think they were good then and still don’t.

Ray Liddard: I saw these supporting UFO and at the Marquee and at Reading. They were viewed with suspicion by the metal masses because of their glam androgynous image, but they were actually pretty good. I have both albums and a handful of mint condition singles that my mate purloined from Jet Records when he worked there as a motorcycle messenger.

Evan Sanders: I don't know why I never heard of this album back in the early 80s. They will never be mistaken for Aerosmith or even for Kiss, but it's just a fun rock'n'roll album by a band who seemed like they would be worthwhile as an opener. 6/10

Uli Hassinger: I was wondering how this album had not passed my way until now. Girl were not familiar to me in the 80s. Many years later I became aware that this was the former band of Def Leppard axeman Collen. Wanted to listen to the album for decades, but never did. Thanks for bringing it up again.

I really dig it because of its snotty attitude. It reminds me of Hanoi Rocks. Especially the singer Phil Lewis, who has an similar approach to rock singing as Michael Monroe, and both share the slightly androgynous image.

In fact the singer is the outstanding musician on this record. His way of singing is so cool, and the blueprint for a badass rock singer. Besides, he is in charge for most of the songs. I have to listen to LA Guns because of him. I didn't like the band back in the 80s but the singer is way too cool.

I don't think that there is a single bad song on the album. They are all different and meld influences of hard rock, punk and new way to a very unique sound. My favourites are the cool and bluesy The Things You Say, the stylish and Blondie-like Strawberries, the offhand rocker Little Miss Ann and the reggae-riffed Passing Clouds. But the burner on the album is My Number. This is a real rock album that doesn't give a fuck about the opinion of others and really grabs you by the balls. Love it. 9/10.

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Final Score: 7.06 (48 votes cast, with a total score of 339)

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