The Runaways: The Runaways
Don't let the teevee tube or the records being released fool you! Teenage America's spirit is not sagging (empty helium balloons surrounded by Paul McCartney records). CB radios, disco, the Fonz, the cast of Welcome Back, Kotter: THAT'S SHELLAC, JACK!!
Punk nouveau is hot as blazes, reading fast, groping even into, and very, very soon (maybe tomorrow) punk rock is going to start hips shaking on every street corner, wiping out the boredom set deep in every teenager's eyes (put to snooze by Elton John and assorted wimps). That's the Punk Rock Revival II, meaning no more clean-cut pop and lotsa dirty, badass rock 'n' roll. Kim Fowley knows it's coming. Patti Smith and the Ramones are perpetrating it. And damn, the Runaways have grasped IT!
Calling themselves "Queens of Noise" in their anthem ‘American Nights’ (as teenage a call-to-arms as you'll ever hear), the Runaways have earned the right to scream "I'm sixteen and proud," play sloppy, and strut like they were the Rolling Stones. The Runaways don't try to hide the fact that their band was obviously spawned in a garage, educated on the shakin' streets, and measured in terms of its own sexuality.
Get this straight: these girls do not display any S&M image, chained to the throne of the Shangri-Las, nor do they rate their ‘tits & ass’ over their music like Fanny. This is a band, not just a band of girls, which embraces the frantic energy of being teenage in much the same way as the Dictators.
When the first chord strikes the beat on this debut elpee, you sense an urgent commitment, or rather, a need to survive against the seemingly endless barrier of thirty-year old geezers acting like decrepit clowns as they mimic a Chuck Berry riff (from the Allman Bros. to Mr. Muscle and his Macho Boogie Kings: take your pick).
The Runaways epitomize that punk rock vision.
#1 They represent the first all girl band not at the mercy of some manipulative male producer.
#2 They are sixteen, high school to the core, and rooted in the belief of total teenage rampage.
#3 They are ready and willing to stomp upon the professional groin. Just listen to ‘Thunder’ or ‘Secrets’ from this album, and note the transcendence of their inner impulses over the banality of the material or the awkwardness in performing even the most basic riffs.
The Runaways' album can easily be earmarked right alongside the first Stooges record in its expression of teenage passions, its slurring of lyrics into pouting mono-syllables, and its final call to dance to that rock 'n' roll beat.
Punk rock represents teenage liberation quite economically: those off-key, out-of-tune, primitive screams and hyena gyrations still remain the purest form for expressing teenage desire and arrogance (from the Shadows Of Knight to the MC5). The Runaways exist still in that tradition, but with a difference: they're younger, snottier, wilder, and more depraved, PLUS they're GIRLS.
In their exuberance and their passionate screams, the Runaways will stand. A millennium will pass: Thin Lizzy or Steely Dan or whatever will fade into a final vinyl oblivion. But the spirit of bands like the Runaways will remain fixed in the teenage consciousness forever, coded subliminally into two universal key words: "SHAKE IT!!"