LOS ANGELES -- Cherie Currie wasn't saying "yes" and she wasn't
saying "no comment." Instead, when the one-time frontwoman of the legendary
'70s grrrl group the Runaways was asked if the group were planning a
reunion, she responded simply with a suspicious smirk.
"Let's just say there are going to be lots of exciting things happening
this year," she said slyly. "People can use their imaginations."
They didn't have to Friday at Golden Apple Comic Book Megastore on
Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, when Currie was joined by Runaways
Sandy West for a brief set of the group's music.
Currie was appearing at the free show to celebrate the re-release of her
1980 album, Messin' With the Boys. But the highlight of the event
-- which also attracted Donita Sparks from the grrrl group L7 (who once
covered the Runaways' hit "Cherry Bomb") and Jeffrey McDonald from punk
band Redd Kross -- was the finale with West.
With Currie's current group, Blue Canyon, providing backup, the former
Runaways stormed through several of their group's signature songs,
including "American Nights" and "California Paradise." When Currie and West
got to the band's infamous "jailbait" anthem,
"Cherry Bomb," they were joined by Rodney Bingenheimer, the renowned DJ of
KROQ-FM who was an early supporter of the group.
"When we play those songs together, it just brings back so many great
memories," said West, who now plays in the local hard-rock outfit the Sandy
West Band. "It's second nature to me. The Runaways mean everything
to me, so it's the best feeling in the world to play those songs again."
The original Runaways, who recorded three albums (The Runaways, Queens of Noise and Waitin' for the Night), included singer/guitarist Joan Jett, guitarist Lita Ford and bassist Jackie Fox, in addition to Currie and West. Jett went on to have a successful solo career with hits such as "I Love Rock 'N' Roll," while Ford had less success recording solo metal albums.
Almost lost amid the hoopla of the partial Runaways reunion was the
ostensible subject of the event, the reissue of Messin' With the
Boys. The album, which Currie recorded with her twin sister, Marie,
was her first post-Runaways effort. At this show, Currie was joined by
Marie, and the two traded vocals and harmonies on four of the album's
songs, including the rocking title track and the ballad "Secrets."
Currie opened the show with new material from Blue Canyon. A
sharp turn from her hard-rock beginnings, the new songs, such as the
"Don't Believe in Heaven" and the elegant ballad "Believe," are roots-rock
numbers teetering on country terrain. "I'm older now, and the songs I'm
writing are more middle-of-the-road," Currie said afterward of her new
material, which she is currently shopping to labels. "I have a 7-year-old
daughter, and the songs I write are more inspirational songs -- songs that
me feel good."
But what clearly made the fans feel good was the brief -- albeit partial --
brush with the Runaways. West and Currie stayed after the show to sign
autographs to the delight of Runaways fans, old and young.
"I really loved it," said Steve Pake, 43, who first saw the Runaways play at
the Whisky a Go Go in 1976. "It was a tad better than it was '76, and they
always just dynamite back then. I'm excited to see Cherie back. I've been
waiting for years for her new album."
Other fans were crossing their fingers that West and Currie uniting may
lead to something more momentous. "If the Runaways reunite, I'll finally be
OK with the fact I was born about 10 years late," said Justine
Harrington, 22, clutching a copy of the Runaways' 1977
album Queen of Noise, which contained the still-wet ink of Currie's and
West's autographs. "This century will end right."