No story about THE RUNAWAYS would be complete without a little (or a lot) of behind-the-scenes drama, and TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT – A TRIBUTE TO THE QUEENS OF NOISE: THE RUNAWAYS (out today on Main Man Records) is no exception. The expansive, two-disc collection of cover songs recently made headlines when two of THE RUNAWAYS – Joan Jett and Cherie Currie – allegedly plotted an attempt to stop the release of the album; a plan that failed as pre-orders for the album have shipped and it’s made it’s way onto iTunes.
From a strictly musical perspective, TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT features some standout performances from THE DONNAS, New York Dolls’ DAVID JOHANSEN, SHONEN KNIFE, KITTIE, FRANKENSTEIN 3000, DELIRIUM TREMENS, and CARE BEARS ON FIRE. There’s actually so much good among the contributing artists that narrowing the field does a disservice to the record (sample all of the tracks in the widget down below).
The digital advance copy of the album provided to me for review a few weeks back features 55-tracks, 36 of which are the songs themselves, with 19 tracks providing a narration through the history of the band via archival sound bytes. Curiously, the digital version available online today features only 40 tracks, with most of the archive material seemingly deleted – or possibly attached to other tracks. This ‘bonus material’ not only came as a surprise, but was a crucial part of setting TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT apart from the standard ‘tribute album’ trappings. Kicking off with an intro by KROQ’s Rodney Bingenheimer (preserved on the release version), the tracking feels like a complement to last years somewhat-accurate feature film biopic on the band. With the possibly missing tracks containing the voices of Cherie Currie, Joan Jett, Lita Ford, and Sandy West among others, I’m wondering if this was the reason for those recent legal threats.
The Bottom Line: A portion of the proceeds from the album will be donated to the American Institute For Cancer Research in honor of late Runaways drummer SANDY WEST, who succumbed to the disease in 2006. While the charitable aspect of the project along makes it worth supporting, it’s just the icing on the cake. TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT is a lovingly-crafted tribute to one of the most influential bands of the past four decades.