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The School Report 1978-2008, 5CD Book Set

Review by Gary Hill

This retrospective box set from Girlschool really captures the various flavors of the band. I know I said, "box set," but it is called a book set because it comes in a cool book, rather than a gravitational box. It's such cool packaging that it earned one of our MSJ bonus videos. You can check out that video at

I really think Girlschool is such a cool band. To me, they are what the Runaways could have been if they had been more edgy and taken more chances. They can pull of pop rock hooks, but also include plenty of heavy metal and hard rock. Another valid comparison would be Motörhead, if Motörhead could pull off pop hooks better and had a female singer. They always had a close relationship with Lemmy, and Motörhead is featured as one of the guests here. Additionally, there is a collaboration track credited as "Headgirl."

The final disc is a concert from the pre-Girlschool days. The recording quality on that isn't great (too much crowd noise), and they were essentially a very good bar band. It is a great historic document as it shows the potential they had even then that became the magic that is Girlschool. All in all, I think this is a great set that really shows how interesting Girlschool is. It should be noted that I previously reviewed some of this music. For the sake of consistency my track reviews here are copied or adapted from those.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2023  Volume 4 More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Demolition Girls (1979-1983)
Take It All Away
I really dig this energetic rocker. It's packed full of cool riffs and hooks. I love the bass work on this, and the old-school guitar soloing is all class.
It Could Be Better
While the classy rock and roll sound on this is solid, this track isn't at the same level as the opener was.
This classic gets a strong rendition here. I prefer some of the rawer, edgier versions I have heard, this works well.
Nothing To Lose
Girlschool's brand of hard rocking music is on great display here. This is meaty and catchy and very cool.
Demolition Boys
A siren sort of sound opens this. Then some driving guitar joins and we're off. This is energetic and more than a little punky. It ends with noisy chaos and sound-effects.
Not For Sale
I love the metal-styled introduction on this. The cut works out to more of a smoking hot hard rocker. This definitely has metal angles to it.
Take It All Away
Another version of the song that opened the CD, this feels a little rawer and more energetic. There is more of a punk edge at play.
I really dig the rocking tune. It's no big change, but it just works really well.
Race With The Devil
I think I first heard this song done by Judas Priest. I never realized until hearing this version that it was a cover. This version is quite a lot like the JP version, and that's a good thing. The song was originally performed by the band Gun.
Yeah Right
This is a fun rocker with plenty of punk in the mix. The guitar solo is particularly meaty.
Please Don’t Touch (Headgirl)
I have always loved this collaboration between Motörhead and Girlschool. It is a great representation of both bands with a healthy helping of old-school rock and roll.
Hit And Run

There is a lot more pop rock music built into this beast. It's another solid rocker that works well.

The Hunter
There is a little more of a metal edge to this song. That said, the main riffing makes me think of Hawkwind a little.
(I’m Your) Victim
This is another that's a bit more metallic. It's driving and hard rocking, but manages to have some hooks, too.
Watch Your Step
This starts with drums and then launches into some seriously metallic ferocity.
C’mon Let’s Go

The shouted chorus is infectious. The riffing is classic. This is another smoking hot hard rocker.

Here we get a cover of the ZZ Top song. They put in a fierce rendition. The original is all-time classic, but I think I might like this version just about as much.
Don’t Call It Love
I dig the hard-rocking edge on this a lot. The song is a smoking hot number.
Screaming Blue Murder
An edgy and mean metallic rocker, this is so classy.
It Turns Your Head Around
A punky, edgy rocker, this is classy stuff. It has some tasty guitar soloing, too.
You Got Me
Punky, hard-rocking and edgy, this is a strong tune.
Take It From Me
Another killer rocker, I like this a lot.
1-2-3-4 Rock And Roll
A catchy rock and roller with both punk and metal edges, this is another strong cut.
Playing Dirty (1983-1988)
20th Century Boy
This has some great hooks. It is built on a pop rock vibe, but it's got a raw metal meets punk texture to it, too.
Play Dirty

I really dig the 80s hair metal angle to this cut. The track has some punky angles to it, too. It's a pop rocker that works so well.

Running For Cover
More metallic and edgy, there is a more serious vibe to this song. The choruses are more anthemic, and this is really meaty.
High & Dry
Rock and roll, pop rock and metal all seem to merge on this cut. It's catchy and yet there is definitely some real rocking stuff in the mix, too.
Going Under
The opening here has a real pop metal edge to it. This drops to a balladic approach for the dramatic verse section.
Burning In The Heat

There is a scorching hot metal section that gets this going. The cut works out to more of an energized pop rock groove from there. This is a particularly strong tune.

Nowhere To Run
I really dig the powerhouse metal sounds of this rocker. It's catchy, but also quite edgy.
Are You Ready?
More hard rock meets metal is on display as this gets going.
Let Me Go
Another catchy hard rocking metallic romp, this is so strong.
Running Wild
A balladic approach opens this song. It turns more rocking later. I'm not positive I'd call it a power-ballad. It seems more like a song that is part ballad and part mid-tempo melodic rocker.
Love Is A Lie
Imagine merging Warlock and WASP. You might have something pretty similar to this. It's a killer metal stomper that works great. The guitar solo on this is really tasty.
Nasty Nasty
More pure anthemic metal, this is another smoking hot rocker.
Back For More
There is a psychedelic introduction here that gives way to more of the kind of hard rocking fun you expect by this point. The riffing on this is particularly strong. I really dig the instrumental break on this beast.
All Day All Night
There is weird little scene setting sound section at the start. From there, though, they launch into a great metal rock and roll jam. This is high energy, catchy and very cool.
You’ve Got Me (Under Your Spell)
Very much trademark Girlschool this has some killer metallic stuff in some of the guitar sounds and fills. It’s a strong tune.
Let’s Go Crazy
This is such a cool cuts. It’s just quite strong in terms of the classic Girlschool concepts. Add in a cool trippy middle section, and this one really stands out nicely.
Play With Fire
Another high energy rocker, this is classy stuff. It’s very much a Girlschool meets NWOBHM type piece.
Head Over Heels
Here we get more of a straightforward 80s metal vibe. This is another catchy tune, but not up the same level as some of the rest here. That said, the guitar solo is exceptional.
This thing comes in screaming hot. It’s a scorching metal tune with a punk meets pop edge.
Love At First Bite
There is just a bit of Goth rock edge to this. The chorus is so catchy. This song is fun and another favorite.
Too Hot To Handle
I really love the guitar soloing on this one. The cut is another scorching hot, metal rock and roller. It really screams.
Still Not That Innocent (1992-2015)
My Ambition

There is a melodic, mellower psychedelic styled introduction built into this piece. The cut fires out from there into some fierce hard rocking music. This is very classy and tastefully raw.

Can’t Say No
This is coming in with drums and vocals. A full band arrangement punctuates that vocal movement. That sort of pattern takes command for several verses. Eventually we get a full arrangement with vocals later, but it still reverts to the stripped back concept beyond that.
Can’t Do That
More of a raw, almost punky, vibe in on display here. This is another killer tune.
Take Me I’m Yours
Here we get another meaty, anthemic hard rocker. They slow it to plodding at the end.
A vocal only introduction gives way to the kind of rocking thing you expect from this band. The cut has some intriguing shifts and changes. It's killer hard rock that has some definite metal edges to it.

Fierce and metallic, this is high energy. It's also one of my favorites here. It rocks like crazy.

Coming Your Way (2002 Version)
While not a big change, this a party rocker that works really well.
Mad Mad Sister
I really like this rocker a lot. The guitar sound on it almost brings some psychedelia to the table along with plenty of hard rock.
Let’s Get Hard
This rocker has some great metallic sounds at play. It really drives with style.
Not a big change, this has some particularly dramatic guitar parts to it. In fact, that's what really elevates this.
You Say
There is a real anthemic pop rock vibe built into this one. It has a lot of style and energy. It's also fun.
A bit more metallic, this rocker has a mean edge to it, but a real accessible pop rock vibe overall. The melodic sections of this really soar, and the guitar solo is particularly tasty. This gets really powerful in the closing section.
Other Side
The metal ante is upped here. The chugging middle section is a cool touch, too. Other items of interest on this are a cool vocal arrangement and some scorching lead guitar work.
I Spy (Dio/Iommi Mix)
Heaven and Hell (or Black Sabbath depending on your definition) are in the house on this. Ronnie James Dio sings on the track, and Tony Iommi provides the lead guitar.
This is a killer jam that really works well. The chorus has a lot of power and emotion, and the track just really rocks! This is definitely a standout. Neil Murray plays the bass here.
They cover Motörhead here, and Fast Eddie Clark (who is best known for his work in that band) adds his distinctive guitar skills to the track. They put in a cool version. The fast-paced jam that closes this is quite tasty.
I Told You So – Singles, B-Sides (1980-1983)
Furniture Fire
Drums bring us in here. The cut works out to a punky sort of jam that manages to remind me a little of Hawkwind in some ways.
Nothing To Lose (7? edit)
This rocker works well. It's no big surprise, but it's effective.
Here we get a cover of the song from Motörhead. I like their version quite a bit. It's not as raw as the original, but doesn't lose any of the energy. It gains a little bit of a polished edge that somehow serves it well.
Emergency (by Motorhead)
Here we get another version of a song we heard earlier in the set. This is the familiar version by Motörhead. It rocks like crazy. I really love the guitar solo on the tune.
A fierce rocker that manages to be accessible, I like this a lot. It is catchy, but also mean.
Demolition Boys (Live)
This live rocker is another strong one. It's very much the kind of music you expect from Motörhead in some ways. The vocals bring a different angle to it. This is somehow more fierce in live performance.
Tonight (Live)
This is similarly rawer in this live telling. I think I prefer it to the version we heard a little while ago.
There is a mean sound to the riffing on this. The cut merges metallic elements with punky and pop-rock ones.
Don’t Stop
This is not a big change, but it's another effective rocker.
Tush (1983 Version)
A different version of their cover of ZZ Top, I think this works better. It has some killer guitar soloing, too.
Don’t Call It Love (1983 Version)
Here we get another metallic rocker that works really well.
1-2-3-4 Rock And Roll (Extended Version)
I really dig this rock and roller here. We heard a different version earlier, but I think this one is better. It's a sing-along kind of anthemic rocker.
Like It Like That (B-side)
This is another trademark Girlschool tune. It's hard rocking and classy.
Demos (1978-2002)
Let’s Spend The Night Together (1978 Demo)
A cover of the classic Rolling Stones song, this has a real 1960s rock vibe. It's fun, but definitely demo quality in its recording.
Just Don’t Care (1978 Demo)
The arrangement to this is similar to that of the last track. It's a big change from a lot of the rawer, more electrified music, but it works well.
Nothing To Lose (1985 Demo)
This rocking demo seems more like the middle ground between the last couple tunes and the bulk of the set. It's another solid rocker.
Baby Doll (1985 Demo)
Another classy rocker, this has some cool guitar soloing. It's another fine example of the Girlschool rock meets pop hooks approach.
Not For Sale (1985 Demo)
A bit edgier, this works well. It's more on the rocking side of the equation. There are some cool galloping moments in the guitar soloing.
Running Wild (1985 Demo)
This starts with a balladic approach, but it builds out to more rocking territory later. I'm reminded of Doro to some degree on this cut. It has a power-metal angle to it.
Love Is A Lie (1985 Demo)
Metallic riffing brings this cut into being. It's another that gives off a bit of a Doro or Warlock feeling to me. This is meaty and strong.
I Told You So (2002 Demo)
Old time rock and roll gets a bit of a punk edge added to it here. This isn't as strong as the last few tracks, but it still manages to work well.
Have A Nice Day (2002 Demo)
This gets a tiny parental advisory. It's an edgy rocker with both punk and metal built into it.
London (2002 Demo)
Fierce metallic sounds are on the menu here. This is a great tune, demo or not.
The Pre-School Years – Painted Lady Live (1978)
I Wanted To Boogie
I dig the bar band vibe to this song. It fits well with the earliest demos on the last CD. This features a lot of guitar showcase throughout.
Be My Lover
This is an Alice Cooper cover. It feels a little lackluster in this performance, but it's a nice surprise nonetheless.
Smoke On The Water
Here we get a clean guitar rendition of the Deep Purple classic. This is total bar band fare, but it's also a solid version of the track.
King of The Blues
I dig the old-school rock and roll sound on this number. It's a fun rocker. The guitar soloing on it is cool. 
Sometime World
A slower, mellower piece, this doesn't work as well as some of the rest here. That said, the bluesy guitar soloing is packed full of passion.
Rub It In
A harder rocking piece, the vocal performance gets pretty powerful at times. This is another old-school rock and roll meets blues styled cut.
I Saw Her Standing There
Here we get a Beatles cover. This works pretty well, but isn't a standout by any means. The title shows this as "I Saw Her Standing There," but it's sung as "him" instead of "her."
All Along The Watchtower
This version of the classic track falls somewhere between Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix. That said, I think they are going more for the Hendrix end of the spectrum.
Paper Plane
Another bar-band styled tune, this isn't a big change or any kind of standout.
Johnny B. Goode
Here they cover Chuck Berry. This rocker works pretty well. It's definitely a step up from the last tune.
Shoot Shoot
This classic UFO song gets a stripped back, old-school rock and roll take. It's an intriguing change.
How Can I Tell You
Not anything Earth-shattering, this is another solid bar-band rocker.
Can’t Get Enough
This Bad Company cover is solid.
All Right Now
From Bad Company they take us to Free. Again, this is sort of what you'd expect. I do like the guitar soloing quite a bit.
Knocking On Heaven’s Door
We're back into Bob Dylan territory with this tune. I like this version quite a bit, but the audience noise gets very distracting at times.
Gimme Some Loving
I dig this cover well enough. It's not the best thing in this show, though. The guitar soloing is pretty strong.
Honky Tonk Women
Back into Rolling Stones zones, it's another competent cover.
Change’s Coming
Nothing spectacular, this does have some killer guitar soloing. This definitely has some hints of what Girlschool would be.
Hey Joe
Jimi Hendrix is on the menu again. I like this quite a bit. It has a similar style to Hendrix, and the guitar soloing really pushes this number into the standout category, at least for this final CD.
You Keep Me Hanging On
No big surprises here, I think the previous cut would have been a stronger closer. This is reasonably solid, though.

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