The Runaways: Queens of Noise

runaways_queensofnoiseRockin’ sophomore release from legendary all-girl ‘70s group

The Runaways second album is a more solid rock album than their self-titled debut, but it also has a more rushed and thrown-together feeling. The Runaways’ erstwhile lead singer, Cherie Currie, was already sharing microphone time with the group’s musical leader, Joan Jett. The album’s title track went to Jett, and with her songwriting adding muscle to the song list, her fingerprints were all over the album. Currie was a compelling vocalist, able to sing both ballads and up-tempo numbers, but she was more theater than rock, and placing tunes like “I Like Playin’ With Fire” and “California Paradise” back-to-back made the band sound schizophrenic. Currie would exit the band after a tour of Japan, and the seeds of her solo career can be heard in the highly produced vocal pop of “Midnight Music.” It’s a good track, but at odds with its segue from Joan Jett’s “Take It or Leave It.”

Earle Mankey’s produced the album at Brothers’ Studio, but any delicacy the Beach Boys achieved within those walls was quickly discarded. The CD transfer retains the original album’s muddiness, which is how it sounded on vinyl in 1978. This is a sledgehammer recording, with Jett and Ford’s guitars growling alongside the meaty, propulsive drumming of Sandy West. Though Jett later proved herself best suited for pop stardom, West’s time-keeping (which lead guitarist Lita Ford occasionally seemed unable to keep pace with) has always been overlooked as the band’s rock-steady core. The title track continued to capture the milieu of the mid-70s Los Angeles, but “Hollywood” seems forced and only a year into the band’s tenure, their teenage spark was clearly being doused by the poor treatment from the band’s minders.

The album’s only real misstep is the 7-minute blues guitar showcase, “Johnny Guitar,” which was filler then, and remains filler today. Cherry Red’s CD reissue rounds up the original ten tracks without bonuses. The insert unfolds into a poster that includes a fan essay, liner notes by Michael Heatley, a note from label founder Iain McNay, photos and song lyrics. It took Cherry Red many years to gain license to reissue these albums, and they’re just the sort of thing to drop from print without notice, only to turn up on eBay for $50. So if you think you want them, get them while you can! [©2009 hyperbolium dot com]

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One Response to “The Runaways: Queens of Noise”

  1. Roderick says:

    Feb27pauline lita was offered one thasound dollars for her life story in the movie by joans manager and told them where to get off..lita was not married to tony iommi only engaged..she was married to chris holmes from wasp for a brief period..lita still rocks today with her new cd wicked wonderland with husband jim gillette

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