The Runaways

Young and Fast

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Kim Fowley specialized in exploitation and the 1987 incarnation of the Runaways may be his cheapest slice of sleaze ever. The Runaways had been dead for a decade when Fowley decided to capitalize on his rights to their trademark, inspired in part by a demo tape from teenage Kiwi singer Gayle Welch but also certainly by the continued success of Joan Jett and Lita Ford, the latter benefiting from the slick, seedy metal of the Sunset Strip. Fowley attempted to cash in on that trend by following the same template he had in the pre-punk days: he manufactured a band around Welch and had her sing songs of teenage horniness and rock & roll. It’s a timeless formula that needs to be adapted for the times and, master conman that he is, Fowley did exactly that, having these Runaways perform odes to “S-P-E-E-D-M-E-T-A-L” and “Heavy Metal Nights,” dabble in guitar-laden power-ballads and, most embarrassingly, do a drum machine-anchored new wave throwback on “Boots of Fire.” Welch snarls like Cherie Currie -- not distinctively or with charisma but good enough for a teenage girl out of her element -- but the music is an anonymous LA thud delivered by wannabe studio rats (including a pre-Guns N Roses Gilby Clarke) but even that generic grind would be passable if the production wasn’t so chintzy and the songs so horrid, never mustering any energy, just hitting all the expected marks with the grace of drunken jailbait. It's exploitation at its absolute worst: it's trashy and never fun.

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