Screaming Blue Murder

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Like their eager mentors and frequent partners in crime Motörhead, Girlschool had parlayed the New Wave of British Heavy Metal's brief heyday from 1979-1981 into numerous magazine covers, sold-out tours, and a string of hit albums and singles. But change was in store for all, come 1982. As has been well documented elsewhere, the year would break Motörhead's most legendary lineup asunder, and in the all-girl metal troupe's case, the combination of a grueling work schedule and mounting pressure to appeal to mainstream fans would sew the seeds of their undoing. Founding bassist Enid Williams was the first to crack in the new year, so that the sessions for third album Screaming Blue Murder found the band breaking in new arrival Ghislaine "Gil" Weston, as well as coping with everyone's high expectations. It's no wonder things didn't turn out as planned, and occasional flashes of last years' glory like the forceful title track, lead-off single "Don't Call It Love," and its B-side, "Wildlife," were sadly the exception, not the rule, leaving fans to grapple with a slew of half-baked and, honestly, half-hearted hard rockers -- interchangeable ditties like "Take It from Me," "When Your Blood Runs Cold," and a wholly unnecessary cover of the Stones' "Live with Me." Near the end, "Hellrazor" managed to offer some small improvement on these, but unusual closer "Flesh and Blood," with its sparse guitars, creeping drums, and whispered vocals, suggested "filler" far more than a brave experiment. And, in the end, its this uncomfortable struggle between instinct and uncertainty that dampens Screaming Blue Murder's overall impact, and in retrospect, signaled the beginning of Girlschool's decline.

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