When the London-based Girlschool came along in 1978, there weren't many women playing heavy metal, hard rock, or pop-metal. There was Heart and the revolutionary, way-ahead-of-their-time Runaways, but those ladies of loudness were the exception instead of the rule -- metal/hard rock was definitely a male-dominated field in those days. Thankfully, Girlschool's members didn't let that prevent them from rocking aggressively. Assembled in 2002, The Very Best of Girlschool paints an exciting, if imperfect, picture of their contributions to metal and hard rock. Many of the band's essential '80s gems are offered, including "Race With the Devil," "Demolition Boys," "Hit and Run," and "C'Mon Let's Go." These classics are fine examples of Girlschool's forceful yet melodic approach, as is their stomping cover of T. Rex's "20th Century Boy." Some essential tracks are missing, including the 1979 single "Take It All Away" and Girlschool's 1981 cover of ZZ Top's "Tush." And one can also complain about the fact that Sanctuary provides a live performance of "Yeah Right" instead of the original studio version from 1981. That isn't to say that the live performance of "Yeah Right" isn't enjoyable; however, the original studio version is definitive, and that is the version that Sanctuary should have chosen. Not all of the albums that Girlschool recorded in the '80s were consistent; when the band went through various personnel changes, they came out with some albums that were uneven and unfocused. But Girlschool had more ups than downs, and this CD leaves listeners with a generally favorable picture of the British headbangers. For those who have never purchased a Girlschool album, The Very Best of Girlschool would be a logical and rewarding (although not quite ideal) starting start.
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson