Personnel: Kim McAuliffe (vocals, guitar); Chris Bonacci (guitar); Denise Dufort (drums).
After failing miserably at their one-album "audition" for Mercury Records with 1985's lackluster and low-selling Running Wild, Girlschool found themselves rejoining old-time partners-in-crime Motörhead at brand-spanking-new independent label GWR for the following year's follow-up, Nightmare at Maple Cross. Not that there's any concrete evidence suggesting Lemmy and Co. had any influence on some of the better new tracks (namely "All Day, All Night," "Play with Fire," and "Turn It Up"), renewing their acquaintance with heavier riffs and proto-riot grrrl aggression, for a change. But the presence of producer Vic Maile -- responsible for both Girlschool's and Motörhead's early triumphs -- was certainly a contributing factor, ensuring that even the disc's more obviously commercial, singalong efforts ("Never Too Late," "Back for More," for instance) came wrapped in a good bit of barbed wire. If there were any truly grave repeat offenses, it was in the fact that, once again, covers had to be used as padding for the absent co-songwriting efforts of the departed Kelly Johnson. Their glam-heavy romp through Mud's "Tiger Feet" wasn't even all that bad (their insistence on mining the Chinn/Chapman catalog was!), but the girls may have hit an all-time low by partnering with the infamous Gary Glitter for an embarrassing rendition of his "I'm the Leader of the Gang" (released as a single in the U.K., and included in the album's U.S. release). Taken as a whole, however, Nightmare at Maple Cross was a semi-promising step back from the cliff's edge for the beloved all-girl metal gang -- too bad it wouldn't last. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia