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Sunday, August 15, 2010

the Runaways

Rock movies generally suck. There are a few that break the mode of over the top self importance and way too much much bad music. Purple Rain for it's time did an admirable job. Almost Famous. Stop Making  Sense...ahh well, there are a few. The Runaways. Joan Jetts send off to her first band produced in the seventies and billed as the first all girl rock band is a decent rock movie. Who would have thunk it?

I remember my buddy from UOI turning me on a tape of different bands. The Brains, the Busboys, Ramones...Joan Jett. I don't give a damn about my bad reputation...bahdahdahbanddanh. We drank many beers to that riff. I had no idea what she looked like who she was but in the early eighties she was a new sound kicking out a very interesting energy. Little did I know that tape was actually a Runway tape of Joan frontlining in the last days of the band.

The movie takes us through the early days of punk. You have to pick up on Joan's influence then. Hard charging straight energy. Sex Pistols energy. The Runaways lived the life. They did the drugs and lived the Rock and Roll life while producing a pre GO GO's Madonna all girl rock band sound that was more authentic than either of those two much bigger artists. And why was that? Because the Runaways really were just F&^%$ up kids who got in over their head with some early success and couldn't keep off the drugs and the lifestyle of a balls to the wall existence.

But there is the authenticity. Joan Jett produced this film and she made sure the grittiness was there. Maybe it was the director, but somebody kept the film authentic. Compared to American Idol crapola rolling down the pike and our IPOD one hit wonder bands, the Runaways seem like light white lightning against the sugary Kool Aid that passes for Rock and Roll now. The film finishes up with Joan's breakthrough album that twenty three labels turned down. Credits roll and we find out she is the last survivor of the band still making from a bygone era when rock still kicked ass.  Pity.

Books by William Hazelgrove