Private School by the Catholic Girls, 1983


OK, I’ll admit it – I bought the album for the cover. Back in the ’80s, with no Internet or iTunes, you bought on sight and hoped the record had some redeeming value. But frankly, I didn’t care if the music was any good – the cover was hot, and when I found it in the cut-out bin for $1, I bought it and hung it on the wall over my turntable. (For those of you too young to know, a cut-out bin was where record stores put the remaindered albums, with a notch cut in the upper right corner so that it wouldn’t be sold at full price.) Remind me to go into some detail at some point about the Penguin Feather, the funky little indy record store I used to hang out at. And this wasn’t the first album I bought for the cover – check out Silk Torpedo by the Pretty Things.

Anyway, it turns out that the Catholic Girls were not bad. The New Jersey quartet wrote some solid punky pop (and even an 8-minute Steadmanesque epic called “God Made You For Me”), and their lead singer, Gail Petersen, had a very weird and apparently uncontrollable vibrato in her voice that you either loved or hated. There wasn’t really a weak song on the album, and I picked “Private School” mostly for the great line “I never thought about those boys like you said/I don’t want to go to hell – I don’t even want to be dead.” The video above is from another song on the same album, but you get the drift.

I’ve never met anyone who has ever heard of the Catholic Girls, but I see that they are still, 30 years later, performing and putting out albums. Go Jersey.

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