Girls At Our Best -Pleasure
Featuring, oddly enough, a pre-fame Thomas Dolby here and there on keyboards,
Girls at Our Best's sole album, Pleasure, is an underrated delight,
tempering the sometimes harsh edge of the earliest singles to an equally
passionate and entertaining approach not afraid to be calm here and
there. With Harper now firmly settled into the drum seat, the quartet
touched on everything from Siouxsie and the Banshees' arty edge to Gang
of Four aggro-funk and full-on power pop catchiness, and did so brilliantly.
Evans' voice was at its considerable best at many points, sometimes
so light that it was hard to catch what was being sung, but often able
to deliver her sometimes wry, sometimes sunny, but always smart sentiments
just right. The hilarious rip on capitalist dreams "Waterbed Babies"
and the sly "China Blue" are two particular winners. The sprightly,
full-bodied music didn't lack for excitement either, and unlike the
rote exercise that much of indie rock later became, there's still an
exploratory, honest freshness about the arrangements. Call it the surfy
leads Alan throws in here than there, the very intentional disco quotes
on "Heaven," or trying out subtle tempo shifts at points for
variety within a song, but there's plenty of random joy to be had, down
to the guest clarinet on "Fun-City Teenagers." Excellent as
it was, Pleasure didn't have the band's defining moment, the absolutely
brilliant debut single "Getting Nowhere Fast," which gained
posthumous fame via a cover version on the Wedding Present's debut album.
Sharp, short, and perfectly catchy down to its sudden edit ending two
minutes in, it's one of the highlights of turn of the '80s Brit rock.
Happily, that track, plus all the other studio cuts of the band's career
-- including a delightful cover of the traditional "This Train,"
aka "Bound for Glory" -- and a slew of period clippings in
the artwork all appear on the Vinyl Japan CD re-release.
~ Ned Raggett, All Music Guide
Formed in Leeds, England in 1979, the pop-punk unit Girls at Our Best!
comprised vocalist Judy Evans, guitarist James Alan and bassist Gerald
Swift. Originally dubbed the Butterflies, they kicked around the British
punk scene, and were on the verge of disabanding when they responded
to an advertisement posted by a Cambridge area recording studio offering
half-off session rates. With the aid of drummer Chris Oldroyd, the group
recorded two tracks, "Warm Girls" and "Getting Nowhere
Fast." In the spring of 1980, the demo was released as a single
on Rough Trade under the name Girls at Our Best!, an appellation taken
from a lyric in "Warm Girls." With session drummer Paul Simon,
the band soon re-entered the studio to cut their second single, "Politics,"
which like its predecessor topped the U.K. indie charts. After the permanent
addition of former Expelaires drummer Carl Harper, Girls at Our Best!
issued a third single, "Go for Gold," followed in 1981 by
the release of their long-awaited debut LP Pleasure. Though no formal
announcement of their break-up ever appeared, the record was the group's
~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide