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Cameron H.

Musical Mondays Week 101 The Runaways

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How to Become a Chainsaw Artist: The Cheri Curry Story

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I'll stay out for now.  I'm still working my way through it.  Had to take it in parts.

One question I will ask.  Did The Runaways have more than one hit?  All the posters I've seen focus on Cherry Bomb.

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32 minutes ago, Cinco DeNio said:

I'll stay out for now.  I'm still working my way through it.  Had to take it in parts.

One question I will ask.  Did The Runaways have more than one hit?  All the posters I've seen focus on Cherry Bomb.

I think it depends on what you call “hits.” They have other well-known(ish) songs, but I’d say “Cherry Bomb” was their big one.

 

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Overall, I thought the movie was fine. I kind of want to get more Runaways records, especially the ones after Currie left. I didn’t realize that they released two more albums with Jett fronting the group. Not that this is portrayed in the movie, of course. That’s pure Wikipedia right there 🙄

Most of all, I was impressed with KStew’s physicality. She really captured Jett’s body language.

 

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Yea I think "Cherry Bomb" was pretty massive, but there's a few other hits. I'm not familiar with their music, beyond their first album. Which I think is amazing. The guitar playing by Jett and Ford is pretty impressive. 

From what I learned about the group, it seems that in some ways the most interesting story could have been Currie's twin sister. She apparently was left out of the band because Fowley didn't want twins in it. She did end up making some music on her own (and even as a duo with Cherie).

There's a lot of other drama and controversy between band members and Fowley that didn't get portrayed too.

I was watching some live clips of the band after I watched the movie and the movie did nail the band in a lot of the details. That sexy lingerie costume Cherie got and Jett was like 'that's too much'... that was real! 

 

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1 hour ago, AlmostAGhost said:

 

 

Who's that bassist? Where is "Robin"? I'm going to have to call shenanigans on this clip.

 

Legit though, the reason "Robin" is likely in the movie is all kinds of upsetting.

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11 minutes ago, Cam Bert said:

Who's that bassist? Where is "Robin"? I'm going to have to call shenanigans on this clip.

 

Legit though, the reason "Robin" is likely in the movie is all kinds of upsetting.

Yea, for real. And she's had a really interesting life too... became a successful lawyer and a Jeopardy champion!

But one side angle of that is how they handled her in this. They cast Alia Shawkat who is great, but did she even have any lines? Did she one word? But on the other hand, Fox wasn't even allowed to play on their first album, which this film covers. They ending up using, if I recall right, Blondie's bassist. So in a way, she was somewhat expandable in this story.

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2 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Yea, for real. And she's had a really interesting life too... became a successful lawyer and a Jeopardy champion!

But one side angle of that is how they handled her in this. They cast Alia Shawkat who is great, but did she even have any lines? Did she one word? But on the other hand, Fox wasn't even allowed to play on their first album, which this film covers. They ending up using, if I recall right, Blondie's bassist. So in a way, she was somewhat expandable in this story.

I legit didn't even recognize Alia Shawkat in this. Now that you mention it I don't think she does have a single speaking line. Maybe when they're in the pool she does some shouting but that's about it.

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4 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Yea, for real. And she's had a really interesting life too... became a successful lawyer and a Jeopardy champion!

But one side angle of that is how they handled her in this. They cast Alia Shawkat who is great, but did she even have any lines? Did she one word? But on the other hand, Fox wasn't even allowed to play on their first album, which this film covers. They ending up using, if I recall right, Blondie's bassist. So in a way, she was somewhat expandable in this story.

And before Fuchs, their bassist was Micki Steele, later of The Bangles. 

What was weird though is the moment Shannon was flipping through the band bios and he’s like “Robin Robinson, bass, smart as Hell” or whatever he says. Why even draw attention to it?

I just thought it was funny. It was like telling the origins of the Beatles, omitting Pete Best, and replacing him with Rango Orbb.

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Lita Ford gets pretty short shrift too. Her whole character is “fight a couple of times with Jett.”

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3 hours ago, Cameron H. said:

I think it depends on what you call “hits.” They have other well-known(ish) songs, but I’d say “Cherry Bomb” was their big one.

 

"Hit" is extremely debatable in the US. Cherry Bomb was their highest charting song but didn't get into the top 100 in the US.

Having a hit doesn't necessarily make you a big deal just as not having a hit means you're nothing. Loads of bands are technically one hit wonders like Jimi Hendrix or The Grateful Dead. Loads of influential bands had no hits like Velvet Underground or Nick Drake or Big Star. 

My perception of The Runaways is they were basically not a thing at all in the US unless you were really into their scene. I'm not especially into punk but I don't even recall hearing people list them as an influence. Joan Jett (and the Blackhearts) for sure as a touchstone. I'm sure Runaways fans exist, but I don't really hear about them. 

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43 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

"Hit" is extremely debatable in the US. Cherry Bomb was their highest charting song but didn't get into the top 100 in the US.

Having a hit doesn't necessarily make you a big deal just as not having a hit means you're nothing. Loads of bands are technically one hit wonders like Jimi Hendrix or The Grateful Dead. Loads of influential bands had no hits like Velvet Underground or Nick Drake or Big Star. 

My perception of The Runaways is they were basically not a thing at all in the US unless you were really into their scene. I'm not especially into punk but I don't even recall hearing people list them as an influence. Joan Jett (and the Blackhearts) for sure as a touchstone. I'm sure Runaways fans exist, but I don't really hear about them. 

Yea, though "Cherry Bomb" was a pretty big hit in Japan. I'm not sure the movie made that as clear as it could have.

They became influential later, probably when Jett became more famous (and even Ford and the others). Now they're recognized as an influential female band, I think. Maybe less in the punk realm though and more towards rock or even metal (i.e. Ford). Actually maybe 'influential' is the wrong word, not sure they changed much really, but they were a pioneering group.

I was stunned by this number as I was listening to their music the other day. On Spotify, "Cherry Bomb" has over 88 million plays. Their second highest song is at 2 million (my favorite of theirs "You Drive Me Wild"). So yea they're definitely a one-hit wonder type of group.

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34 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

"Hit" is extremely debatable in the US. Cherry Bomb was their highest charting song but didn't get into the top 100 in the US.

Having a hit doesn't necessarily make you a big deal just as not having a hit means you're nothing. Loads of bands are technically one hit wonders like Jimi Hendrix or The Grateful Dead. Loads of influential bands had no hits like Velvet Underground or Nick Drake or Big Star. 

My perception of The Runaways is they were basically not a thing at all in the US unless you were really into their scene. I'm not especially into punk but I don't even recall hearing people list them as an influence. Joan Jett (and the Blackhearts) for sure as a touchstone. I'm sure Runaways fans exist, but I don't really hear about them. 

This seems like an excellent week to mention that Penelope Spheeris' documentary about this period, "The Decline of Western Civilization", was on TCM recently and at least here in Canada is still available on demand.

My memory of these years is hazy and I was too young to be a proper punk (I was 12 in 1980) but The Runaways definitely had an impact, especially on their female peers and other bands trying to make the same scene and trying to be more than a novelty act. You can't underestimate the impact that punk compilations and even mix tapes had on the fans and musicians who circulated them. You can draw a straight line from bands like The Runaways to bands like Hole or Bikini Kill.

I do remember that when Joan Jett went solo and had big boring hits like "I Love Rock n' Roll", there was a lot of sellout-grumbling. Lita Ford was clearly happier pushing hair metal.

I did see this biopic when it came out at a fancy theatre in Toronto and I mainly remember being impressed with K-Stew and realizing "oh, she's actually a very good actor."

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29 minutes ago, theworstbuddhist said:

I did see this biopic when it came out at a fancy theatre in Toronto and I mainly remember being impressed with K-Stew and realizing "oh, she's actually a very good actor."

I was looking at the movies I've watched with Stewart in it on Letterboxd, and putting aside the Twilights and the one super dumb blockbuster thing (Underwater), I've seen 5 of her artier movies and I rated them all 3.5. That is, I liked them all, but nothing super blew me away. Rarely was that her fault, either. But I take it as she's out there making really good stuff if you know where to look!

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Just now, AlmostAGhost said:

I was looking at the movies I've watched with Stewart in it on Letterboxd, and putting aside the <i>Twilight</i> and the one super dumb blockbuster thing (<i>Underwater</i>), I've seen 5 of her artier movies and I rated them all 3.5. That is, I liked them all, but nothing super blew me away. Rarely was that her fault, either. But I take it as she's out there making really good stuff if you know where to look!

Definitely, stuff like Personal Shopper, Clouds of Sils Maria, Adventureland, all good stuff. I actually have a soft spot for the Twilight films and often enjoy getting baked and watching them once in a while - lots of great actors in those films wondering what the hell is going on. I even enjoyed the Charlie's Angels picture she was in.

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1 hour ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Yea, though "Cherry Bomb" was a pretty big hit in Japan. I'm not sure the movie made that as clear as it could have.

They became influential later, probably when Jett became more famous (and even Ford and the others). Now they're recognized as an influential female band, I think. Maybe less in the punk realm though and more towards rock or even metal (i.e. Ford). Actually maybe 'influential' is the wrong word, not sure they changed much really, but they were a pioneering group.

I was stunned by this number as I was listening to their music the other day. On Spotify, "Cherry Bomb" has over 88 million plays. Their second highest song is at 2 million (my favorite of theirs "You Drive Me Wild"). So yea they're definitely a one-hit wonder type of group.

Yeah, I knew The Runaways were massive in Japan. Wikipedia says they were the fourth most imported music band in whatever year that was. Im curious if Cam Bert has any insight into if The Runaways have a lasting legacy in Japan.

There's a story about Bob Seger (I think but might be wrong on being him) where he was huge in his hometown of Detroit. Sell out shows everywhere he went in Detroit. But was virtually unknown outside Michigan until finally breaking nationally. Music could still be very regional in the 70s. I assume the Runaways were kind of similar. They just didn't stick together long enough to truly benefit from punk gaining popularity. But I also wonder how well it would have gone down if it were better known at the time that they were a semi manufactured group.

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Also, I agree with all the Kristen Stewart appreciation. I hope the Twilight stink can get off of her someday so that she can get some more recognition.

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11 minutes ago, grudlian. said:

Yeah, I knew The Runaways were massive in Japan. Wikipedia says they were the fourth most imported music band in whatever year that was. Im curious if Cam Bert has any insight into if The Runaways have a lasting legacy in Japan.

There's a story about Bob Seger (I think but might be wrong on being him) where he was huge in his hometown of Detroit. Sell out shows everywhere he went in Detroit. But was virtually unknown outside Michigan until finally breaking nationally. Music could still be very regional in the 70s. I assume the Runaways were kind of similar. They just didn't stick together long enough to truly benefit from punk gaining popularity. But I also wonder how well it would have gone down if it were better known at the time that they were a semi manufactured group.

To be fair, The Runaways released four more albums than the Sex Pistols who were also semi-manufactured. 

Punk music can definitely be localized and a lot of influential bands don’t tend to have huge (or any) hits. Kind of like The Velvet Underground or Operation Ivy. They are huge within the scene, but not necessarily to laypeople. The Runaways at least had some commercial success.

 

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1 hour ago, Cameron H. said:

To be fair, The Runaways released four more albums than the Sex Pistols who were also semi-manufactured. 

Punk music can definitely be localized and a lot of influential bands don’t tend to have huge (or any) hits. Kind of like The Velvet Underground or Operation Ivy. They are huge within the scene, but not necessarily to laypeople. The Runaways at least had some commercial success.

 

To be fair, I think the Sex Pistols deserve a lot of derision because they were manufactured. It's widely known Sid Viscous replaced someone who could play an instrument purely because he looked the part.

But I'm not knocking The Runaways. This started as me saying they didn't have any commercial hits in the US and weren't big (except in Japan) outside of their bubble. But I think that's a criticism you could put toward every punk band.

There's that quote about The Velvet Underground (maybe from Lester Bangs) that goes something like "Velvet Underground only sold 1000 albums when they were together by every one of those people started a band."

I don't think that quote is entirely applicable to The Runaways but I'm not super into punk music and very much less into American punk music. So, maybe I'm wrong. Based on my own experience, I've heard way more talk about The Slits, X-Ray Spex, The Raincoats, Wendy O. Williams, Siouxsie and the Banshees as female punk (and post punk) inspiration than The Runaways. But I think all those groups formed after The Runaways but were active concurrently. So, maybe they influenced a bunch of other women lead groups. I honestly don't know. 

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Wiki includes it in their list, so maybe they were, but in my view, The Runaways weren't really punk at all. They were far too good at their instruments and weren't trying to cause a ruckus or cause a commotion like the Sex Pistols or Ramones were. The last track on their first album was a 7-minute blues guitar thing, few to no punk band could or would do that! Honestly, they sound like AC/DC to me. I really don't see them in the same lane as punk that much. ("Cherry Bomb" perhaps.)

I dunno, I'm not great with genres when it comes to music, except for the purest originators, it's usually hard to tell definitively.

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48 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

Wiki includes it in their list, so maybe they were, but in my view, The Runaways weren't really punk at all. They were far too good at their instruments and weren't trying to cause a ruckus or cause a commotion like the Sex Pistols or Ramones were. The last track on their first album was a 7-minute blues guitar thing, few to no punk band could or would do that! Honestly, they sound like AC/DC to me. I really don't see them in the same lane as punk that much. ("Cherry Bomb" perhaps.)

I dunno, I'm not great with genres when it comes to music, except for the purest originators, it's usually hard to tell definitively.

I would probably call them (late) proto-punk. They have more in common with The Kinks, The Stooges, MC5, and the New York Dolls, than The Clash or The Germs. They would have been influential to punk bands, but I don’t know that they would have considered themselves punk. They would have probably just called themselves a rock band and left it at that.

This is somewhat reinforced by the fact that according to IMDb, the band that was giving them shit about doing a sound check was Rush! There’s no way a Seventies punk band would have been caught dead opening for Rush.

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Yeah, proto punk is more accurate. My understanding is punk as a descriptor was kind of nebulous in the late 70s and anything in the New York/CBGB scene (which Runaways weren't but I think I read somewhere this week they opened for The Ramones) as kind of considered or called punk until a lot of other genre names were established. Even bands like Television and Talking Heads were lumped in with punk to a small extent and I don't think anyone would put them in sound wise with Ramones, Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Clash, etc. But I think that happens with new genres repeatedly. So, it's not like punk got it worse than metal or grunge or hip hop or disco or whatever.

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1 hour ago, Cameron H. said:

This is somewhat reinforced by the fact that according to IMDb, the band that was giving them shit about doing a sound check was Rush! There’s no way a Seventies punk band would have been caught dead opening for Rush.

No way! Ha that's crazy. Why wasn't that mentioned in the movie? They should've been like, "Screw you, Neil Peart!"

There is a video of the Runaways playing CBGB's in the like 1977 on youtube, so I guess at very least they were either punk-adjacent... or more likely, they were attempted to be thrown at the punk crowd to see if they stuck... and maybe they didn't? 

I really love the first Runaways record, I just relistened to it. I'll stick to my AC/DC comparison... slow heavy riffs with lots of innuendo. It's so much fun. It's honestly a shame that AC/DC got to continue doing that for 40 years and be a top-selling band of all-time and the Runaways didn't.

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17 minutes ago, AlmostAGhost said:

No way! Ha that's crazy. Why wasn't that mentioned in the movie? They should've been like, "Screw you, Neil Peart!"

There is a video of the Runaways playing CBGB's in the like 1977 on youtube, so I guess at very least they were either punk-adjacent... or more likely, they were attempted to be thrown at the punk crowd to see if they stuck... and maybe they didn't? 

I really love the first Runaways record, I just relistened to it. I'll stick to my AC/DC comparison... slow heavy riffs with lots of innuendo. It's so much fun. It's honestly a shame that AC/DC got to continue doing that for 40 years and be a top-selling band of all-time and the Runaways didn't.

I watched a YouTube video and both Jett and Ford described their music as "Riff Rock" which is very much like AC/DC. I seem to remember watching a documentary about Rock years ago, and when they were talking about AC/DC, they said they were one of the few hard rock bands at the time that were embraced by English punks. The Runaways could be another example of this. As kinf of an aside, Jett also complimented Ford's ability to shred. She said she would have put her up against any of the big hard rock band guitar players.

I also started watching that documentary you embedded, and Ford said the first songs she played with West was Deep Purple's "Highway Star." The first song the three of them played together was KISS's "Strutter." So, yeah, definitely not punk or punk influenced. 

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