While the span of the band’s career was relatively short, The Runaways changed the landscape of rock and altered the perception of women making music forever. With The Runaways’ biopic just released last year, who would have imagined that their influence would continue to be topical several decades after their break up? I was around for the duration of their rise and fall and, the significant post-Runaways careers of Joan Jett and Lita Ford notwithstanding, I sure never thought we’d still be taking about them 30 years later. So it’s not surprising, really, that Main Man Records has compiled what can only be called the definitive Runaways tribute compilation; a two disc set called Take It Or Leave It. All you need to know is that this record fucking rocks.
If you were alive and digging rock music in the seventies, you don’t really need me – or anyone else for that matter – to sell you on this compilation/tribute. The collection sells itself by virtue of what it is: over fifty separate tracks of badass punk/metal/rock music and interview snippets that make me wish I were 15 years old again and could still get excited about a new band. Because, compared to anything that’s charted in the past 20 years, The Runways kick everyone’s ass. There a few songs here that aren’t “perfect” (really, guys; Bebe Buell may have slept with an impressive number of Rock Stars, but she can’t sing) but they all sound good, and most of the covers are amazing. It’s also fun to hear the brief sound bites from original Runaways members on how they joined the band and other memories. But the bottom line is that this record is Rock & Roll, or what it used to be before everything became emo and autotuned. Yawn city. That’s the most positive review I can give it. Here are a few more details about this faith restoring release.
Take It Or Leave It is a 2-disc collection with 36 tracks that span The Runaways entire catalog. Their best-known songs, like “Cherry Bomb” and “Queens Of Noise” are represented alongside more obscure tunes like “Hollywood” and “Born To Be Bad.” The fullness of the selection makes it evident how generations of artists, from L7 and The Go-Gos to Redd Kross and Guns n’ Roses, call back to the passion-fueled rock sensibility of The Runaways.
While the individual interpretations of each track explore the original contributions of Cherie Currie, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Sandy West, Jackie Fox, Vicki Blue, Take It Or Leave It also includes two performances by original Runaways band members: lead vocalist Cherie Currie’s rocking remake of fan-favorite “American Nights,” and “Dirty Magazines,” the last recording made by drummer Sandy West (who passed away from lung cancer in 2006) with her band Blue Fox.
More Info, and Track/Band Listing after the Jump!