Girlschool - Nightmare At Maple Cross / Take A Bite album review

NWOBHM’s scene queens get their bite back

Girlschool Nightmare At Maple Cross / Take A Bite album cover

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As the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal broke against the cosmetic cliffs of new romanticism, you’d think Girlschool – its most glamorous proponents – would have been best equipped to surf on to success. Instead, in the wake of their Top 5 peak with 1981’s Hit And Run album, the fem-metal icons floundered amid shifting line-ups and labels, misjudged collaborations with Slade, failed stabs at America and bad reviewer puns about being “just prefect!”.

Failing to graduate (there it is) alongside contemporaries Motörhead and Maiden, come 1986 they went looking for rejuvenation in their biker metal roots. Reconnecting with early producer Vic Maile, the resulting Nightmare At Maple Cross, with its grindhouse chugs, glam stomps and speedfreak cover of Mud’s Tiger Feet, comes across a bit Driveway To The Danger Zone. But the jagged barroom blues of Never Too Late, the rawness of Danger Sign and the T.Rexy Back For More chimed with the rise of Guns N’ Roses.

Its vampiric 1988 follow-up Take A Bite went straight for LA rock’s jugular. Recorded on a shoestring and cribbing lyrics for Head Over Heels from Lemmy’s beer mat (literally), it nonetheless sounded a million Mötley dollars, even if the triumphal AC/DC yowls of Girls On Top actually preluded a fan-haemorrhaging semi-split. Worth another nibble.

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Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont is a music journalist with almost three decades' experience writing for publications including Classic Rock, NME, The Guardian, The Independent, The Telegraph, The Times, Uncut and Melody Maker. He has written major biographies on Muse, Jay-Z, The Killers, Kanye West and Bon Iver and his debut novel [6666666666] is available on Kindle.