Sunday, June 26, 2011

Take It Or Leave It - A Tribute To the Queens of Noise: The Runaways

Main Man Records

As a rule of thumb tribute albums are usually a thinly veiled attempt to make a quick buck by assembling a few well known bands and then having them rush through cover songs with little or no attention given to the actual quality of the material. For every star outfit on a compilation there are two or three bands no one has ever heard of for good reason. Usually these affairs are meant to be fun, but are often times a bore. When I first heard that Main Man Records was gathering artists to pay tribute to The Runaways I was skeptical. The Runaways changed the way women were viewed in music and went on to influence everyone from The Go-Go's to Guns N' Roses. Dedicated to Sandy West's name this album set a lofty goal of not only covering the music of the Runaways, but also putting their own twist on the songs and making it all sound good. Does it work? Yes, and then some. Spread across these two discs are some great acts like The Donnas, Shonen Knife, The Adolescents, The Dandy Warhols and Kittie. Along with Derwood Andrews (of Generation X fame), Earl Slick (David Bowie/New York Dolls) and Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill/Le Tigre) you have new bands like Frankenstein 3000 covering music than spans the Runaways' whole career. What makes this collection really stand out is the fun way in which they have interview clips with the members of The Runaways and mock radio ads interspersed with the actual music. It breaks up the music in such a neat way and keeps things from feeling to stall. Also, you can tell how much these bands not only respected the songs, but how much fun they had doing this tribute. Most tribute albums suffer from either safe, paint-by-numbers covers or versions that are so weird and out there that it becomes a mess. On Take It Or Leave It these artists have fun with the music. I loved Shonen Knife's cool take on "Black Leather" and The Binges cover of "I Love Playin' With Fire" from the very beginning of disc one and things never let off from there. Over the span of two discs The Runaways get a loving tribute done of them that shows just how much they meant to rock music as a whole. With it's nice color cover and fold out album art Take It Or Leave It is worth the price of admission alone. But it gets better as in Sandy West's name, Main Man Records will be making a donation of 50% of the proceeds of Take It Or Leave It to the American Institute for Cancer Research. Not only do you get to rock out to the music of Sandy West and company, but you'll do supporting a worthwhile cause! Below you'll find a link to Main Man Records with a special offer available for pre-orders!


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