The Runaways 

The Runaways/Queens of Noise

Cherry Red

In the August 1972 issue of Ms., Lester Bangs wrote that "Clearly we need an all-woman rock 'n' roll band that can create the kind of loud, savage, mesmerizing music that challenges men on their own ground." Four years later the Runaways were born, and wannabe rockers of the teenage female persuasion had instant role models. But despite providing the first stage steps of Joan Jett and Lita Ford, the Runaways are justifiably more renowned as a footnote in rock history than for any truly musical contribution. These reissues will explain why.

The Runaways began as a Lolita-themed creation of Los Angeles music impresario Kim Fowley, who put the band together and changed the girls' names: Joan Larkin became Joan Jett, Sandy Pesavento became Sandy West, and Jacqueline Fuchs became Jackie Fox. Furthermore, he plastered their ages (sixteen and seventeen) on the back of the first record (The Runaways), and posed them next to strip-club poles for the front cover of the follow-up Queens of Noise -- in his spare time, he not only managed the band and produced their first two albums, but also had a hand in writing seven of the ten songs on each.

While for the most part playing their own instruments (future lawyer Fox's basslines were covered by an uncredited Nigel Harrison of Blondie), the Runaways adopted nearly every rock 'n' roll cliché employed by their male predecessors, which included penning some of the most embarrassing couplets ("Don't hold off, do it, I need your lovin'/I'm getting so hot, I'm cookin' like an oven") in a decade full of egregious lyrics. Though The Runaways contains the minor hit "Cherry Bomb" and an acceptable cover of Lou Reed's "Rock and Roll," any passing marks earned by the school-age Runaways would be based on effort rather than execution. Buy these for a historical thrill, but don't expect a musical one.

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