And Now…The Runaways
Most Runaways fans count the band with making three studio records - 'The Runaways' (1976), 'Queens Of Noise' (1977) and 'Waitin For The Night' (1977).
'And Now...The Runaways' is the fourth studio record - the one that slipped through the cracks for most.
Why is 'And Now...The Runaways' unknown? This is the record that The Runaways made in 1979 after Cherie Curie had left the band, not able to deal with the rise of Joan Jett as a personality and writer. Cherie was the lead vocalist of the band, and the most well known member at the time due to her eye candy appeal and the song Cherry Bomb.
It has been hard to find this record for years. Now Anagram have made it available through this re-issue. There are no bonus tracks, so we are talking about a thirty five minute CD. Even so, I like this record a lot, as I always have.
'And Now...The Runaways' combines the traditional glam sound of bands like Mott the Hoople, Slade or Sweet with Lita Ford's toughguy lead guitar (like Blue Oyster Cult or Lynryd Skynryd) and Joan Jett's Suzi Quatro styled vocals.
This record was the first with new bassist Vicki Blue. By today's standards many of the songs sound sluggish on first listening, but once you give the album some attention the songs start to sink their hooks into you, and everything sounds proper.
You can hear the collision between Joan Jett's "loud fast rules" view and Lita Ford's heavy metal licks (in 1989 she married Chris Holmes of W.A.S.P.). Drummer Sandy West has visible muscles - is she the real rebel, truly abandoning the women rockers as peepshow attitude that had driven Kim Fowley when he first formed the band?
All I know is the The Runaways carried on the legacy started by rockers like Suzi Quatro, but achieved a lot more success than she even did (except in her acting role in the US TV show Happy Days as Pinky Tuscadero). This band - and in particular this record where the band took full control and were not produced by Kim Fowley - shone a light that was later made even brighter by bands like Seven Year Bitch, Tribe 8, and many other bands we came to love and admire.
- Saturday Night Special The guitar reminds me of Lynryd Skynryd, who even had a song of the same name. Joan Jett's voice makes this one an excellent song. The lyrics represent sentiments made gospel by bands like The Donnas.
- Eight Days a Week A Beatles cover, performed as a high school prom slow dance. The dreamy sound works. I always prefer cover versions that take a new view of the original instead of just recreating the song with new musicians, and this one fills the bill as such.
- Mama Weer All Crazee Now A cover of the Slade song. Joan's voice has a real nice sting to it, just like Johnny Thunder's guitar used to in his heyday. The problem with this version is the piano. The piano rocks like Willy Alexander, but it just sounds pasted on (not natural) in a Runaways song.
- I'm a Million Lita Ford takes lead vocal spot on this song, which reminds me a lot of the Blue Oyster Cult song The Last Days Of May, particularly the vocals in the verses and the guitar. The words are good too. The song tells a story of living in a bad relationship, and finding your own self-worth.
- Right Now Sandy West sings this one! I like this song. Her untrained voice is the best part. The track sounds honest and sincere, and is good hard pop with drums way up front in a beat heavy mix that I wish the rest of the album had. The drum mix reminds me of Sparks record 'Big Beat.' I wish the keyboard part was left out of the track. It is the only part of the song I could do without.
- Takeover Joan Jett's political vocals smack of naivety and the music sounds like Tommy James and the Shondell's Crimson and Clover (which Joan later covered), yet Takeover is a good song that reminds me of the Ramones 'Rocket To Russia' because of the lyrics about the Russians.
- My Buddy and Me Steve Jones (guitarist of the Sex Pistols) plays on this song. It is easy to figure that out - the opening riff sounds like the Pistols song Pretty Vacant. Joan Jett's vocals and the words make this is one of my favorite tracks on the record.
- Little Lost Girls A whole lot less tough than My Buddy and Me but pretty fine, though the studio pasted in organ and synth is less than ideal, giving the song a feel like The Cars.
- Black Leather Another song with Steve Jones. Black Leather is the most rocking song on the record - it has a much faster beat than other tracks and works all the way through. The sting is Joan's voice that I love so much is just about at its peak here.