CD Review: The Runaways- Neon Angels On The Road to Ruin (1976-1978)

Aaron ConnMusic, ReviewsLeave a Comment

Runaways Neon Angels

Runaways Neon AngelsCherry Red Records have, once again, graced rock fans with another box set release. The release in question, Neon Angels, is a five disc set devoted to the career of the Runaways. Managed by the infamous Kim Fowley, the Runaways were one of the first successful all-female rock bands. While their success was short-lived, the music would help catapult guitarists Joan Jett and Lita Ford to success come the 1980s.

A Little History
The Runaways came to be after music mogul Kim Fowley set out to form an all-girl rock band. After a few months of assembling the members in 1975, the band settled on what is considered the classic lineup: singer Cherie Currie, guitarists Joan Jett and Lita Ford, bassist Jackie Fox and drummer Sandy West. Signed to Mercury Records, the band would go on to release four studio albums and a live album in their time together.

Given this is a set of albums, I will go through this review album by album.

The Runaways (1976)
Runaways debut albumRight from the opening riff of “Cherry Bomb,” the Runaways hit the ground running with their debut album. Recorded within the month of March 1976, the first Runaways album is a delightful mix of hard rock and punk rock. There’s some great chugging guitar riffs from Jett and Ford while Currie screams like a banshee. As far as debut albums go, the Runaways deliver the goods.

Rating: 7/10
Favorite songs:
Cherry Bomb, Is It Day or Night, American Nights, You Drive Me Wild, Dead End Justice


Queens Of Noise (1977) 
Queens of NoiseThe band’s sophomore effort might be better than the debut. Whereas the debut was more punk rock, Queens of Noise is more of a hard rock affair with absolutely hard hitting production and blistering guitars. In some ways, it might be heavier than the debut. Currie and Jett sing their hearts out while Ford works her magic at the fretboard.

Rating: 7/10
Favorite songs:
Queens of Noise, Born to be Bad, I Love Playin With Fire, Neon Angels, Hollywood

Live In Japan (1977)
Live in JapanLike every band before and after them, the Runaways were huge in Japan. This live album documents that point in time, with a very raw and teen angst-filled live performance. While not in the same league as other live rock albums from the 1970s, the band manages to churn out a solid live effort.

Rating: 6.5/10
Favorite Songs: All Right You Guys, Gettin’ Hot and I Wanna Be Where The Boys Are- all solid tunes never recorded for a studio album


Waitin’ For The Night (1977)
Waitin for the NightDespite the exits of both Currie and Fox, the other three Runaways continued with bassist Vicki Blue. Waitin’ For The Night is a good album, with more great guitar riffs from Jett and Ford. Still, there’s something missing from this album that the first two had. Whether that be the line up change or the band running out of steam is left for debate. As is, this is decent.

Rating: 7/10
Favorite songs: Fantasies, Little Sister, School Days, Wasted, You’re Too Possessive

And Now…The Runaways (1978)
And Now The RunawaysBy the time the fourth album was released, Kim Fowley was no longer managing the band. Vicki Blue also left, being replaced by Laurie McAllister (although in reality, Ford plays all the bass parts). Of the band’s four albums, And Now is easily the weakest: there’s a few good song and some lazy cover tunes (Beatles and Slade). Still, this isn’t bad.

Rating: 6/10
Favorite Songs: Saturday Nite Special, Black Leather, Little Lost Girls, I’m a Million


Post Band History
The Runaways would split in 1979. By the 1980s, Joan Jett and Lita Ford both found success as solo artists. Jett would score several hits in the early and late 1980s while Ford was at the peak of her career with her 1988 Lita album. After the release of a solo album in the 1980s, Cherie Currie would retire from the music business until the 2010s, when she started releasing music again. Jackie Fox would later appear on game shows the same decade, appearing on Jeopardy and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.  Sadly, Sandy West passed in 2006 from lung cancer at the age of 47.

Currie’s 1989 autobiography Neon Angel would later be adapted into a movie entitled The Runaways, starring Dakota Fanning as Currie and Kirsten Stewart as Joan Jett.

Overall, Neon Angel is a great little box set devoted to the Runaways. In buying this, you won’t have to get any other Runaways releases: they’re all here in this set. Along with that, the albums are newly remastered and they sound great. If you’re new to the Runaways, consider this your introduction.

Overall Rating: 7/10


The Runaways

(Visited 166 times, 1 visits today)
Aaron ConnCD Review: The Runaways- Neon Angels On The Road to Ruin (1976-1978)