Various Artists: Take It Or Leave It: A Tribute to the Queens of Noise

Various Artists: Take It Or Leave It: A Tribute to the Queens of Noise
Perhaps no band that broke up in the 70s have had such a late resurgence as the Runaways. Once Joan Jett‘s solo career fizzled in the 90s, The Runaways seemed to be destined to be forgotten. But last year, a film version of the band’s story was released featuring actresses Dakota Fanning and Kristin Stewart. The movie seemingly resurrected the group’s career. A year later, the double disc tribute album, Take It Or Leave It: A Tribute to the Queens of Noise is released celebrating the group.
Being the prototypical female punk band means that a lot of people owe their careers to the Runaways, which is why the high powered track listing is no surprise. The album is headlined by such bands as The Donnas, The Dandy Warhols, Adolescents, Shonen Knife, Peaches, and Kittie.
Some of the album’s most memorable covers comes from the lesser known bands. The Binges pull out an awesome cover of “I Love Playin’ With Fire” that works despite the male vocalist. Care Bears on Fire do a great cover of “Saturday Night Special” that really gets that young, snotty girl group feel.
There are a fair share of oddball covers as well. As one might expect, The Dandy Warhols deliver a less than traditional version of “Cherry Bomb.” Derwood Andrews is best known as the guitarist from Generation X but he delivers an odd Casio drum beat-backed lofi version of “Gotta Get Out Tonight.”
But the oddest parts of Take It Or Leave It come courtesy of the Runaways themselves. There are clips of interviews with the band that are meant to show their self-awareness of their influence. Some of the stories are cool like Lita Ford recalling meeting Led Zeppelin at a club in LA and Jimmy Page and Robert Plant were wearing Runaways’ t-shirts. Other stories seem to serve little point like Sandy West talking about how hard it was to form a band after the Runaways which is immediately followed by a track from her band, Blue Fox. Normally appearing on your own tribute album is taboo but Sandy gets a pass for being on her own tribute due to the fact that she passed away from cancer. Part of the proceeds from Take It Or Leave It go to cancer research.
If you just judge Take It Or Leave It by tribute album standards, its not half bad. But if you judge it by regular album standards, half the songs seemed unlistenable to me. Between oddball covers and just plain bad versions, Take It Or Leave It can be a hard listen. There are some gems on it though which make it worth the purchase for The Runaways’ fans.
Rating: 4.1/10
MP3: The Donnas “Queens of Noise”
Buy: iTunes

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