Various Artists


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This entertaining collection features female-fronted post-punk and new wave music from 1979-1984. It isn't an exhaustive overview, as indicated by the absence of groups such as the Raincoats, and Vivien Goldman's liner notes don't provide specific information on the bands, although the booklet does include the original cover art for some of the recordings. Grlz isn't exclusively a collection of grassroots feminist-punk bands, as indicated by the presence of Malcolm McLaren's brainchild Bow Wow Wow. The common trait that these performers share, besides the involvement of women, is a willingness to bend the rules for dance music. Maximum Joy's "Stretch" juxtaposes Janine Rainforth's occasionally screeching vocals with relatively accessible funk instrumentation, while Rip Rig & Panic's "Storm the Reality Asylum" juxtaposes free jazz trumpeting with a young Neneh Cherry's relatively smooth, soulful vocals. Delta 5's magnificent "Mind Your Own Business" combines a bouncing rhythm section with abrasive guitar and acerbic lyrics worth of fellow Leeds band Gang of Four, while Bow Wow Wow's rousing "C-30 C-60 C-90 Anda!" combines a Burundi-influenced beat with rock guitar while extolling home taping, shoplifting, and violence with the gleeful innocence of an Annette Funicello beach party movie. Ludus provides an amusing spoken interlude about sexual orientation during the appropriately named "Breaking the Rules," while Dorothy provides a more seductive whispered interlude during the electro-disco of "Softness." Other performers include Ari Up, who sings lead on two reggae-influenced tracks: the New Age Steppers' dub-heavy, Adrian Sherwood-produced cover of the Junior Byles song "Fade Away," and the Slits' rendition of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine." While the performances in this collection aren't always polished, they are often inspired and convey the fun of musicians making up the rules as they go along.

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