Play Dirty

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Girlschool's fourth record, 1983's Play Dirty, was where the wheels came off for the pioneering all-girl New Wave of British Heavy Metal band. The no-holds-barred hard rock assault responsible for three straight British Top 40 albums was apparently not good enough for the gals and their record label, Bronze, who proceeded to directly contradict this disc's title with what easily amounted to Girlschool's most polished and vanilla-sounding effort thus far. God knows what they were thinking, but it's a good bet that the post-glam pop successes of ex-Runaway Joan Jett probably played a hand in everything from the glossed-up album artwork, to the hiring of former Slade man Noddy Holder (who had them record not one but two obscure songs of his) as producer, to the cover of T. Rex's "20th Century Boy" -- not to mention insufferable single "1-2-3-4 Rock'n'Roll," which led up to its release. Even a few originals (cue "Breaking All the Rules") sounded as it they'd been ripped straight out of the Chinn/Chapman bubblegum songwriting notebook, but it's probably the remaining band-penned cuts that prove most offensive for their tepid AOR posing as heavy metal (see Vixen-foretelling fare like "Going Under" and the Holder-penned "Burning in the Heat," the pokey title track, and the unbearably synth-sweetened "Surrender" -- so vile it's not even fit to share the same name as a Cheap Trick song!). Anyway, what's left of this sorry debacle (somewhat salvageable numbers like "Rock Me, Shock Me" and "Breakout") arrives too little and too late to salvage the whole, consigning Play Dirty to the dubious -- though not completely undisputed -- honor of worst ever Girlschool album.