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Girls At Our Best!

Actually just one girl at her best!: chirpy chanter Judy “Jo” Evans, plus Leeds lads James “Jez” Alan (guitar) and Gerard “Terry” Swift (bass), post-punk combo GIRLS AT OUR BEST! were only around for a limited time before they disappeared into the twee cult-dom ether. Impressing on a young David Gedge and his WEDDING PRESENT alumni, who, arguably, fostered GAOB’s `Getting Nowhere Fast’ into the C-86 annuls of time, an active three-year span between 1979 and 1982 was never enough to penetrate the indie-pop world.
Formed out of S.O.S./Butterflies, by Judy, James and Gerard (their aforesaid nicknames never explained), GIRLS AT OUR BEST! hooked up with local session drummer Chris Oldroyd (later of MUSIC FOR PLEASURE and RED LORRY YELLOW LORRY) to book half-price studio space in Cambridge, in order to cut and self-finance their debut 45, the 2-minute `Getting Nowhere Fast’, and its longer, SIOUXSIE-er flip-side `Warm Girls’. Released on Record Records the following spring, the single raced up the indie charts, while a permanent sticksman/synths-man was duly found in seasoned, Halifax-born 30-year-old, Paul Simon – no, not that one! (ex-Neo and ex-RADIO STARS).
Finding distribution and a proper catalogue number by way of Rough Trade Records, further indie fruits were squeezed out from sophomore single, `Politics!’ (b/w `It’s Fashion’); described as post-punk nursery rhymes under an umbrella of The RAINCOATS, or twee baroque’n’roll with hints of DELTA 5 and AU PAIRS. Jo’s unique, MADDY PRIOR-esque choral phrasing was meticulously enunciated in her characteristically Anglicised but off-key fashion, sarcastically swiping at failed romantic liaisons in general. Drummer/percussionist Darren/D. Carl Harper (ex-EXPELAIRES) was subsequently drafted in to replace The Fallout Club-bound Simon for single number three, `Go For Gold’. Surfacing on Happy Birthday Records and backed by the saccharine-coated opal, `I’m Beautiful Now’, six months down the line – Rod Johnson partly superseding Harper – the latter graced official UK chart entry (#60), PLEASURE (1981) {*8}. Boasting such proto-riot grrrl ditties as attendant single, `Fast Boyfriends’, plus `Too Big For Your Boots’, `Waterbed Babies’, `£600,000’, `Heaven’, `China Blue’ and the title track, all ‘n’ all, it was a surprisingly impressive set of spiky, indie-pop-punk which found a (t)wee audience nationwide. Incidentally, guests included jazz saxophonist Alan Wakeman (on clarinet), Dave Fischel (on piano/harpsichord) and THOMAS DOLBY (on synthesizer), the latter of whom, subsequently invited Judy to return the favour on his debut album, `The Golden Age Of The Wireless’.
Unfortunately, after a shelved `Heaven’ single failed to materialise, GIRLS AT OUR BEST! disbanded in the summer of ‘82; Jez subsequently joined Sexbeat (and later TALL BOYS).
© MC Strong 1999-2003/GRD series // rev-up MCS May2016

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