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Thursday, 1 October 2015

S4L Presents: The Best Debut Albums #23 - Girls At Our Best! (1981)

This is a wee spotlight on Girls At Our Best! They made a few singles but only ever released one album and I'm happy to add it to the list of The Best Debut Albums. The albums was released on this day in 1981 and has been reissued a few times with different tracklistings. It was released on Vinyl Japan in 1994 (video below will play that particular version), in 2009 Cherry Red Records reissued the album as a 22 track CD that featured the album, a couple of singles and B-sides plus the Richard Skinner Session (also below). Optic Nerve Recordings reissued it last year on Coloured Vinyl as a Double Album.

Girls at Our Best! were a post-punk group, founded in Leeds, England in 1979 under the name The Butterflies, who had several UK Indie Chart hits.

The group initially consisted of vocalist Judy "Jo" Evans, guitarist James "Jez" Alan, bassist Gerard "Terry" Swift, and drummer Chris Oldroyd. The band took its new name from a line in their track "Warm Girls", which first appeared on their self-financed 1980 debut single coupled with "Getting Nowhere Fast" on their own Record Records (catalogue number RR1). The song reached No. 9 on the UK Indie Chart, and was followed up by their second single, "Politics" c/w "It's Fashion!", also initially released on Record Records (RR2), but picked up by Rough Trade Records, reaching No. 12.

Oldroyd departed to join Music for Pleasure, and was replaced briefly by the British musician Paul Simon. Simon was in turn replaced by Darren Carl Harper before the next single, "Go for Gold" c/w "I'm Beautiful Now" on Happy Birthday Records (UR4), which was their biggest indie chart hit, reaching No. 4. In October 1981, the group released the album, Pleasure. The late Rod Johnson shared drumming duties with Harper, who had left the band. The album, the first to be released on the Happy Birthday label (catalogue number RULP1), came complete with a "Pleasure Bag" of stickers and postcards. Pleasure reached No. 2 on the indie chart and No. 60 on the UK Album Chart. The band's fourth single, "Fast Boyfriends" c/w "This Train" (Happy Birthday Records UR6), was released that same year. A final single, "Heaven", was issued in 1982, the band splitting later that year.

Alan joined Sexbeat and later The Tall Boys. Evans made a guest appearance on Thomas Dolby's The Golden Age of Wireless album in 1982 (Dolby had guested on synthesizer on Pleasure).

Girls at Our Best! recorded one session for John Peel, on 17 February 1981, which was first broadcast 23 February 1981. This was released as a 12" single in 1987 (Strange Fruit Records SFPS029) featuring "China Blue" and "This Train" on the A-side and a medley of other tracks entitled "Getting Beautiful Warm Gold Fast from Nowhere" on the B-side. There was a further BBC session for Richard Skinner.

"Getting Nowhere Fast" was covered by The Wedding Present on their Anyone Can Make a Mistake EP.

All the music mentioned above I have tried to find links for and they will be down below.

Pleasure - Girls At Out Best!
Happy Birthday Records
Producer – Laurence Diana
 Engineer – Flood
Released 1st October 1981
UK Indie Chart #2
UK Chart #60 
Original Tracklist
A1     Pleasure    
A2     Too Big For Your Boots    
A3     I'm Beautiful Now    
A4     Waterbed Babies    
A5     Fun-City Teenagers    
A6     £600,000    
B1     Heaven    
B2     China Blue    
B3     Fast Boyfriends    
B4     She Flipped    
B5     Goodbye To That Jazz.

Bass, Backing Vocals – Gerard Swift
Clarinet – Alan Wakeman
Drums – Rod Johnson (tracks: A2, A5, B1, B4, B5)
Drums, Percussion – D. Carl Harper
Guitar, Backing Vocals – James Alan
Lead Vocals – Judy Evans
Piano, Harpsichord – Dave Fishel
Synthesizer – Thomas Dolby

BBC Sessions
China Blue.
This Train.
Getting Beautiful Warm Gold Fast From Nowhere (Medley).
Richard Skinner Session BBC Radio 1
23rd February 1981.

Singles and EPs

    "Getting Nowhere Fast"/"Warm Girls" (April 1980) Record, RR1 (UK Indie No. 9)

    "Politics"/"It's Fashion!" (November 1980) Record, RR2/Rough Trade, RT055 (UK Indie No. 12)

    "Go for Gold"/"I'm Beautiful Now" (June 1981) Happy Birthday, UR4 (UK Indie No. 4) 

    "Fast Boyfriends"/"This Train" (October 1981) Happy Birthday, UR6 (UK Indie No. 19) 

    "Heaven"/"£600,000" (May 1982) God, GOD1

Girls At Our Best! Live 1981 (Audio Only)
 These live Girls At Our Best! tracks from 1981 were discovered a few years ago by Dave Wolfenden (of 'Red Lorry Yellow Lorry'). We think they were from the last gig that GAOB! played in the UK. They were recorded direct from the desk and have been enhanced as much as is possible. They were uploaded to You Tube by Jez Alan.     
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