Welcome to The Lazarus Pit, a biweekly look at should-be classic metal records that don’t get nearly enough love; stuff that’s essential listening that you’ve probably never heard of; stuff that we’re too lazy to track down the band members to do a Hall Of Fame for. This week, Girlschool gets sent to the principal’s office by a few actual schoolgirls, courtesy of Rock Goddess and their eponymous debut (A&M).
People give Death Angel a lot of credit for being teenagers when they recorded their seminal debut, The Ultraviolence. Jody and Julie Turner were all of 13 and nine years old, respectively, when they formed Rock Goddess in 1977 – in fact, even by the time their debut came out six years later, they ran into troubles touring because Julie was still a minor. They latched onto the nascent New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but presumably it took them a little while to hone their chops (and hit adolescence). By the time they did, Girlschool had already hit the scene with a similar sound (despite actually forming a year later), leaving Rock Goddess as that OTHER all-female power trio.
That doesn’t mean that these gals didn’t kick some serious ass. They certainly absorbed influences from all the same punk acts and nascent metal bands as their competition, but they had a cleaner sound, more rooted in metal and 70s rock than the overdriven Motorhead worship of Girlschool. Jody Turner’s guitar sound was much closer to Judas Priest, and that chick could scream – you’re much more likely to mistake her for Wendy O Williams than Joan Jett. Tracey Lamb, who would later go on to join Girlschool, wielded her bass with a surprising amount of funk, and the younger Turner sister hit the skins pretty damn hard for a 14-year-old (and had a kit that was way bigger than she was).
Their first record, Rock Goddess, came at the tail end of the New Wave, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t one of the scene’s peaks. The album comes in at a taut 35 minutes, and they take advantage of every minute of it, packing each tune with hooks and fire from the snarling darkness of opener “Heartache” to the handclaps and gang shouts of closer “Heavy Metal Rock ‘n Roll.” In between, there’s the punky burst of “Back to You,” the rage-filled “The Love Lingers Still,” the demonic “My Angel,” and the snarky double entendre of “Satisfied Then Crucified” (these girls sure had a lot of bitterness regarding love, considering they hadn’t even seen two decades yet at that point).
After this, they hooked up with Priest producer Chris Tsangrides for the underwhelming Hell Hath No Fury, followed by a third album that they couldn’t even find a label for. It’s a shame, too; they had every bit as much talent and passion as Girlschool, but they’ve never achieved even the cult fame of that other act. Still, at a time when the metal scene was overwhelmingly dominated by testosterone, they proved that little girls could rock just as hard as the big boys.