The Runaways : Neon Angels On The Road To Ruin : 1976 – 1978 : 5CD Box Set Review

The Runaways: “Neon Angels on the Road to Ruin”

In just 24 short months, this groundbreaking band released five albums, leaving an indelible mark on the rock scene.

Released by Cherry Red Records, this clamshell box set houses five CDs, capturing the essence of The Runaways’ meteoric rise.

CD1 features the band’s debut album ‘The Runaways’, released in June 1976, containing the single ‘Cherry Bomb’ which would become the band’s signature track and be voted No. 52 in VH1’s 100 Greatest Hard Rock Songs list.

CD2 contains the band’s sophomore album ‘Queens Of Noise’, released in January 1977, which found their musical skills honed and the volume raised. Producer and engineer Earle Hankey, who had previously worked with The Beach Boys, Sparks and Elton John, found a sound that helped ‘Take It Or Leave It’, ‘Neon Angels On the Road to Ruin’ and ‘Love Playin’ With Fire’ become fan favourites.

CD3 is the band’s third album ‘Live In Japan’ released in August 1977. The album is comprised of performances from the three concerts in June 1977 in Japan where the band had become a massive success. The only official audio document of the band playing live it features incendiary versions of ‘Cherry Bomb’ ‘Queens Of Noise’, and ‘California Paradise’. This was the last album to feature lead singer Cherie Currie and was a fitting farewell.

CD4 features their fourth album ‘Waitin’ For The Night’ which has the band as a quartet for the first time with Joan Jett taking over as lead vocalist. The trimmed down line-up created a lean, tough record as can be evidenced from opening track ‘Little Sister’, ‘You’re Too Possessive’ and the title track. This album would be the last the band made while under the stewardship of the controversial Kim Fowley.

CD5 is the band’s last album, ‘And Now…The Runaways’, and although there was a lot going on behind the scenes as the band were falling apart, they still managed to deliver. ‘My Buddy And Me’ and ‘I’m a Million’ are standout originals and there are great covers of ‘Black Leather’ and ‘Mama Weer All Crazee Now’.

The Music

The Runaways were pioneers, breaking barriers as an all-female rock band. Their music, a blend of glam rock, punk, and hard rock, resonated with fans worldwide. From the punky vibes of “Queens of Noise” to the hard rock influences in “Waiting for the Night,” their evolution as musicians is evident.

Their live album, “Live in Japan,” is a testament to their prowess on stage. The recording captures the raw energy and youthfulness of both the band and their audience. It’s a snapshot of a time when The Runaways were at the peak of their powers.

Listening to these albums now, it’s evident that The Runaways were ahead of their time. Their music, especially the earlier albums, had a raw, unpolished feel that would later influence bands across genres. The evolution of their sound, especially Lita Ford’s guitar work, is remarkable. From raw beginnings to more refined musicianship, their journey was rapid but impactful.

While there are no bonus tracks in this set, the remastered sound quality is top-notch. For those who already own their albums, this set might not be essential. However, for newcomers or those looking to revisit The Runaways’ legacy, it’s a must-have.

In conclusion, “Neon Angels on the Road to Ruin” is a fitting tribute to The Runaways. It captures their journey, their music, and their legacy. Whether you’re a long-time fan or discovering them for the first time, this box set is a journey worth taking.

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Phil Aston | Now Spinning Magazine

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