It’s rare that I’ll come across a motion picture soundtrack that I can actually dig, and soundtracks themselves are usually only sought out if they succeed in carrying the vibe of a great movie, with the best soundtracks being the ones that MAKE the movie. While this release might not leave me as giddy as the CD from Tarantino’s Death Proof did, the soundtrack to the new film The Runaways is a pretty accomplished product and one that succeeds in capturing the essence of one of music’s most famous all-girl bands. I’ve yet to see the flick itself but this compilation adds to my curiosity and interest in watching this biopic about the Runaways, one of music’s most famous all-girl bands.
The music on this soundtrack is taken from the period in the late 1970’s when the Runaways were active for four brief but influential years. Choice tracks from MC5, Suzi Quatro, David Bowie, Sex Pistols and Nick Gilder provide a real snapshot of the time when the Runaways were active, and these artists would no doubt have influenced the group. Easily my favourite of all the tracks on this album is “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by the Stooges, taken from their self-titled 1969 debut album – by 1975, when the Runaways started life as a band, it had been over a year since the break-up of the Stooges but of course their music lived on and this track with its delicious riff and beat is one of the best songs they ever released. There is also a track from Joan Jett, who in the aftermath of the Runaways went on to become one of the revered women in the history of rock n’ roll.
Fittingly, the other half of this album is made up of songs by the Runaways, three of them being original recordings from the band itself while there are four other songs which feature vocals from the stars of the film, actresses Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart. Both girls do a surprisingly decent job, with Dakota Fanning handling two songs by herself, the pick of these being “Cherry Bomb”… is this really the same former child-actress who has only just turned 16? It’d be easy to be skeptical, but Fanning spits out the vocals in a way which is fairly reminiscent of Cherie Currie, the Runaways singer whom she portrays in the movie. “Cherry Bomb” is the best of the reproductions, and all four of these tracks are fairly true to their originals and the sound of the era – they lack the same grit but there is still enough of kick and a bite to it all to put them a notch or two above than the plastic pop atrocities that they could so easily have been.
Imitations are just that and not a scratch on the real thing, the original, yet this record could serve as a good gateway to new fans who after seeing the movie were left inspired by the story of the band and the great rock music of the ‘70s – just make sure that if you do pick this up that you also have a Stooges and Joan Jett record in your collection soon after, if not before!
© Brian Banks, Music Vice