The Runaways

20th Century Masters:The Millennium Collection:The Best of the Runaways

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In the grand tradition of the Velvet Underground, the Stooges, the MC5, and the New York Dolls, the Runaways were a band who paid a steep price for being ahead of the curve. Their straight-ahead glam-flavored hard rock wasn't as musically innovative as the above-mentioned bands, but as five teenage girls singing about sex, drugs, and rock & roll, they were hardy pioneers who dared to confront the ultimate crotch rock taboo (that women lacked the attitude to play hard and heavy), and the fact they were learning as they went along had a liberating side effect -- like the punks they helped influence, they kept their songs simple, hooky, and heavy on the riffs, and all these years later their music is a lot more satisfying and fun than the bloated '70s rock that was dominating the charts as the gals struggled along the margins. While the Runaways' albums were often spotty, 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Runaways is all killer and no filler from beginning to end, and while a few classics didn't make the cut (including "Hollywood," "Dead End Justice," and "Johnny Guitar," to name a few), to listen to this disc is to hear a kick-ass rock & roll band strutting their stuff with top-notch cuts from their first three studio albums and the epochal Live in Japan. It would be years after the Runaways broke up that Joan Jett and Lita Ford finally got a taste of the success and respect their first band deserved, but this compilation proves they had the songs, the swagger, and the crunch that makes for great hard rock from the jump, and it's as good as place as any to get to one of the great lost bands of the 1970s.

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