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Joan Jett's Finest Hour
on 15 February 2011
The only member of the short-lived Runaways who was ever going to go on to be a bigger success on her own reached her artistic apex with her first album backed by the Blackhearts. "I Love Rock N' Roll" is an excellent album: a mixture of original songs which sit very comfortably alongside some brilliant covers of rock and roll classics. In this remastered version, there are numerous bonus tracks which only serve to enhance the album's quality and never feel like a weak add-on.
Of the covers, "Crimson and Clover" is one of the best of the many versions of the song recorded over the years. "Louie Louie" is a biting version, "Summertime Blues" is neither Eddie Cochran or The Who but has its own style while, of all the covers, Jett's version of "Nag" stands out the most. Only "Bits and Pieces", a cover of the Dave Clark Five song grates a little but this is down to the song which is too repetitive with too weak a hook. You will also end up skipping "Little Drummer Boy" which, although an impressive version, was probably added on for the album's original Christmas-time release. "(I'm Gonna) Run Away" and "Love Is Pain", "Victim Of Circumstance" and the Bo-Diddley beat "Be Straight" are all excellent original numbers and show Jett's prowess as a songwriter. But, of course, the title track is the stand-out song, a perfect cover which is exemplary of the quality of the band and arrangements: tight and short, snappy rock and roll with attitude. While the Blackhearts are excellent, it is Jett, of course, who makes the album with her attacking style, anger and rock and roll drive. She truly takes the songs to the next level.
As well as the bonus tracks, the special edition album comes with bonus enhanced footage when inserted in a computer: "I Love Rock N' Roll" live in New Jersey 1983, "Victim Of Circumstance" live in Texas 1983 and footage of the band on tour in Panama, 1984 which includes an awkward TV show appearance with translator required.
From the cool cover artwork to the brilliant collection of songs, this album is an underrated rock and roll classic from the final renaissance of rock and roll music. The fact that this special edition includes excellent bonus tracks and vintage footage only serves to enhance an already worthwhile addition to any rock and roll fan's collection.