My Number

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Star-crossed from the start, London-based, wannabe glam rock legends Girl were caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place of late-'70s punk and early-'80s heavy metal. And even though their commercial failures would eventually be given the benefit of retrospective re-evaluation when two of their members -- guitarist Phil Collen of later Def Leppard fame, and vocalist Philip Lewis of future L.A. Guns infamy -- made it big with subsequent bands, this comprehensive, two-disc anthology tends to corroborate the harsh reality that Girl just weren't very good in the first place. Then again, some may rightly argue that most glam rock is about posturing as much as music, in which case Girl were a roaring success simply for believing their own hype and, in the process, convincing at least one country (Japan, naturally) to do the same. In any case, Castle's 37-track, 2002-released anthology, My Number, does a more than apt job of registering the quintet's barely three years of existence, leaving few stones unturned and shining powerful spotlights upon the wildly uneven qualities of Girl's output. This becomes immediately evident as disc one begins to unfold: alternating astonishingly good efforts like the fey stomper "My Number," the flawlessly flirtatious "Little Miss Anne," and a positively electrifying "Hollywood Tease" (later famously recut for L.A. Guns's excellent debut) with unconvincing party anthems ("Lovely Lorraine," "Nice 'n' Nasty"), lagging plod-rockers ("The Things That You Say"), lyrically unfinished-sounding numbers ("Thru the Twilight," the Def Leppard-like "Heartbreak America"), characterless cover versions (Kiss' "Do You Love Me," the Kinks-by-way-of-Van Halen's "You Really Got Me"), and even misguided deviations into sub-Police white-boy ska ("Old Dogs," "Passing Clouds"). By the time the disc is winding down, you're deep into the group's second album, where inconsistency has given way to mild derivativeness in the shape of the Aerosmith-lite of "19" and "Overnight Angels"' recycling of Saxon's "Strong Arm of the Law." But, of far greater interest, disc number two shifts the focus to unreleased recordings for what should have been the group's never released third album, and, surprise, surprise, many of the nine tracks on offer display greater maturity and poise than most everything that came before. "Naughty Boy" and "Killing Time" are both unassuming but effective hard rockers, "Big Night Out" and "Green Light" blast off with unprecedented zeal, and even the colder new wave sheen of "The Sound of Cars" is, at the very least, distinctive. Needless to say, it is these long lost tracks, along with six hardly awe-inspiring but no doubt collectable live performances, that will appease any true Girl believers out there, as well as the merely curious glam rock fan looking for a broad and definitive glimpse of Girl's modest contributions to the genre.

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