There is no question that Joan Jett is bad ass. Whether it’s rocking with The Runaways or flying solo, she kicks butt. She is the ultimate female rocker and an icon. It’s this release that got the whole world to stand up and shut up. Not only does the album have her biggest hit single, it also has a bunch of fun, upbeat, and awesome songs that range from lost love to backing off. It’s a great album that still sounds fresh today.
Of course the record starts off with the title track. There are so many reasons why this song is iconic. It’s so popular that many may not remember it’s actually a cover. But the whole vibe of the single from the dirty, sexy guitar riff to Jett’s snaring “Ow!” during chorus, is the epitome of what rock music should be. It’s just bad ass and catchy as hell. But Jett shows she’s not a one trick pony with “(I’m Gonna) Runaway.” Here, a rockabilly guitar riff introduces the track, while Jett howls on about a relationship coming to an end. While it’s not the best song here, it’s still pretty good, especially when the tempo slows down during the bridge, offering the listener something new to grab on to.
What is so great about the album is Jett seems to let her old school influences shine through. So many songs here have that classic Buddy Holly rock and roll/rockabilly vibe to it and it works in the most wonderful way. “Nag” is the perfect example of this sound. The line “You’re a nag” and the back up singers going “nag, nag, nag, nag” makes this really fun and upbeat. You hear it and instantly start dancing. Even though she sounds playful here, she still makes sure her sharp wit and snarkiness sticks with her. Her cover of “Crimson and Clover” is another great example of the 50’s sound on the LP. Rather than being snarling and cruel, she sounds really soft and sweet. Even the music is mellow for the most part. There is a point where it picks up the pace, but it still manages to keep the old school mood. These are great examples that show how Jett was never afraid to go beyond her comfort zone.
“Bit and Pieces” has a cool, slinky rhythm that makes you picture a black cat stalking the night. The rockabilly sound makes a return, while Jett has her attitude in full swing. I also really like the back up singer here; altogether there’s this call and response vibe going on as they sing “You said you loved me and you’d always be mine /(I’m in pieces, bits and pieces)/We’d be together till the end of time /(I’m in pieces, bits and pieces).” Even though there is a lot of repetition, it works really well and never gets tiring. One of my favorite tracks is “You’re Too Possessive.” Nothing but upbeat, fast, fun guitar riffs with a straightforward message that takes over the song. It’s nothing but Jett saying “You’re too fucking clingy, get the fuck away from me.” I like this message also because it tells women, men, anyone in a controlling relationship, to get out and not take their shit. It’s an awesome track that gets you thrashing around the room.
The one song that does not fit whatsoever is “Little Drummer Boy.” Yes, the Christmas song. See, when the album was originally released it was coming out in December, so the record company thought it was a good idea to put this holiday tune on the LP. I get what they were going for, but why put it on an album that has nothing to do with Christmas? It throws off the flow of the entire record and it makes you sit back saying “Huh?” While her version is cool because it puts a punk rock spin on the traditional tune, it should’ve been a stand alone release. It turns out later presses got “Woe is Me” as the closing track. This is another kick ass song with dirty guitar riffs galore. With Jett talking about not being able to trust anyone and being broke, this would be a contender for Generation X’s anthem. Something about the simple format and the music is so satisfying.
Overall, the album gets 8/10. It’s a great rock classic that’s aged really well. Not only do you get some of Jett’s biggest hits, the other tracks here are just as good if not even better. While there are songs that show off her punk rock roots, there are plenty of others that show off her old school musical influence. Her mix of rockabilly with punk makes a refreshing making sure the LP never gets dull. Hearing her spit venom on these songs reminds you what an icon she is. This is the rocker that every little girl who wants to play guitar should look up to. She is amazing and continues to kick your ass.