It’s a sad fact that many classic singles get overlooked these days in the deluge of independent releases. When so many fall by the wayside, Girls At Our Best! can consider themselves fortunate that their excellent debut single “Warm Girls”/Getting Nowhere Fast”, released on their own Record Records in March, picked up some modicum of national recognition.
Adrian Thrills had the taste to make it his Single Of The Week in NME, and the group have since followed up with “Politics”/”lt’s Fashion”, also well received, all this without having yet played a single gig.
Girls At Our Best! are, surprisingly, only one quarter female. They evolved out of a band called The Butterflies who spent a year unsuccessfully gigging in the Leeds area. The four Butterflies recorded “Warm Girls” before disbanding and re-emerging as Girls At Our Best!
A tape of the single was taken to Rough Trade who went crazy over it, agreeing to finance and distribute Record Records. It has since sold a most respectable 7,000 copies while the group’s line-up has settled down to: James ‘Jez’ Alan, guitar; Judy ‘Jo’ Evans, vocals; Gerard ‘Terry’ Swift, bass; and Carl ‘Tich’ Harper, drums. Harper replaced Butterflies drummer Chris, who is now with Music For Pleasure.
The new ‘Girl’ was previously with The Expelaires. He hadn’t heard a note of their music but once the others learned that in 1977, aged 14, he failed an audition for Junior Showtime, they decided that he was the man for them.
Girls At Our Best! have created a kind of non-image through their relative anonymity and non-gigging policy but, as Jez explains, it’s for a pretty simple reason: “We haven’t done any gigs because previously we didn’t have a drummer and now we haven’t got a set. We’ve only got the four songs from the singles.”
Terry continues: “We could have just carried on as The Butterflies, but when we did gigs they were absolute chaos. People have got to
be told what to like: if we played a gig now, they’d say it was good.”
Jez: “Records are a better medium than gigs. With a record, someone’s more likely to listen properly.”
The band are obviously extremely bitter about groups having to be fashionable to be successful live, and for this reason they join the ranks of musicians who are concentrating more on records than gigs these days. On the other hand they adamantly claim not to feel “an affinity to any other bands at all”.
The first single was, in this writer’s opinion, virtually the best of 1980. The harsh sound of crashing guitars and drums on “Warm Girls” is twice interrupted by an amazing hymn-like chorus, made so effective by the voices being overdubbed nine times! It’s interesting to speculate whether the single might have sold even more if the name Girls At Our Best! had been a hip one to drop, like Spizz Energi at the time of “Where’s Captain Kirk?”.
“It’s Fashion”, the follow up, has just been released on Record Records/Rough Trade, both in Britain and as the first Rough Trade release in America. The group are very pleased with this because, as Jez explains: “They held back the American elections until ‘Politics’ was released over there; and then David Bowie released the B-side as his new single!”
This second single is radically different to the first, although harmonies are again used to devastating effect. Both sides are remarkably smooth, and the effect is of a much more poppy sound. It was always going to be difficult to follow a debut like “Warm Girls”, but they’ve made a good try.
So what does the future hold? A chance to write more material and rehearse solidly for their live debut in the first weeks of 1981. This time out, as Girls At Our Best!, the four are determined that their gigs won’t be ignored; and after the quality of “Warm Girls” and “Politics” it would take a fool to bet against them.
Maybe it’s the real image of Girls At Our Best! emerging when I ask Jez for Judy’s opinions on the feminist issue. He replies: “She got to the newsagent too late, and he’d sold out. So she bought some sweets instead.”