Review Summary: It is a classic, but not a five star one!
The Runaways: one of the first and most famous all girl bands. If you haven’t heard of them, we are talking about a band that looked sexy, dressed in hotpants and stockings and, of equal importance, a band that played all the way through rock and roll. Their aim was to do what all the boys could do: to play their favorite music and express themselves as straightforward as possible, ignoring the men dominance in the rock scene. They did just that.
The debut album takes the raw power of punk and the melody of rock and roll, mixes them, and puts angry, teenage lyrics about sex, breaking rules, hooliganism and jail on top. Cherry bomb is their first and most famous track, quite an introduction! Loud, girly punkish backing vocals, catchy chorus and a wild solo. You drive me wild, though, is my personal favorite in the LP. A groovy riff, combined with the voice of a low-life, punk girl drunk on whisky, is all I need.
Unfortunately after the 2 great first songs, the LP offers five average rockers, including a cover of Lou Reed’s Rock and Roll. Average stuff, with no memorable melodies and less energetic. Just drink your beer while listening to them and fix your hair, it’s awful after the first two head bangers! American nights on the other hand, draws your attention again with a loud riff and a melodic chorus. It is a terrific way to get you ready for Blackmail, which is the last great rocker of the album. The groove is back again and I think I can blame it on the guitarist Joan Jett, who wrote the song. She’s got great sense of groove. The next song, Secrets, manages to flow in the general good - mood of the album.
Just when I thought that the album is over, waiting the final generic rocker, the runaway girls prove me wrong. Dead end justice was just something I didn’t expect. It is a 7 minute attempt to a runaway epic, about a girl getting busted for criminal actions, ending up in jail and trying to escape. A punk rock epic with solos, switching tempos and a theatrical touch to it, including conversation between two girls in the jail! A magnificent conclusion to the album.
Besides the great musicological importance of the band, I enjoy this album a lot. It is pure rock and roll, with authenticity, good times guaranteed. It reminds me of my teenage days, when i didn't give anything a second thought. The Runaways first album stands the test of time, in my mind and blows away several other rock bands of that time. It might be a cliché, but if you don’t like this, you might don’t like rock and roll at all!