I’ll admit, this throwback album is WAY back, as in before I was born or even thought of back. 1976 to be exact, when this record was literally on a record. But if you ask me, The Runaways have the kind of sound that sound so much better on a scratchy old LP than an HD remaster studio quality any day.
For this daring all girl rock group. They changed members multiple times over the years, particularly bass players, but this is the most recognized and arguable most loved lineup: Cherie Currie on vocals, Joan Jett on vocals and rhythm guitar (and also having composed a good deal of the songs), Lita Ford on leading guitar and backing vocals, Sandy West on drums, and Jackie Fox on bass.
This album to me represents why we still talk about the Runaways even though their career was so short lived. It has young, underage girls singing and rocking hard about boys, wild nights, energized music, and good old fashioned teen angst. The opening song “Cherry Bomb”, written specifically for lead singer Cherie Currie at her Runaways audition kicks it off splendidly, with a pulsing rhythm the makes any rock enthusiast want to jump up and down and thrash a little.
Other songs on the album such as “Thunder” or “Lovers” aren’t quite so frantic, but give you the sense of being young, a little horny, and wanting that first taste of forbidden fruit. Spruced in there is my personal favorite track on the album, the cover of Velvet Underground’s “Rock and Roll”. But to me, what sticks out the most is the final track of the album, “Dead End Justice”. In essence, it’s this group’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the epic, seven minute story of two teenagers and their rock opera worthy run in with the law and eventual escape. In the early days of the band, this song was particularly theatrical in performance as Currie cited in her autobiography Neon Angel: A Memoir of a Runaway. (A more than worth while read for any rock fanatic).
Long story short, The Runaways won’t change the world or cure diseases, but it does give you an incredible sound of seventies punk that simply can’t be replicated.
-Review by Deborah Tragasz