Given Joan Jett's influences and admirees, such as Chuck Berry, the Coasters, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Tommy James, when that woman belts out "I Love Rock And Roll" I've never heard a truer word sung. Well, maybe I have, but I wonder how many people in 1982 knew that right off from those beginning guitar riffs and claps, that throaty growl of a voice, and the backup vocalists on the chorus, that they would be listening to one of the biggest hits of the 1980's and putting who knows how many dimes in the jukebox. Chances are, this song was such a hit, many people were left thinking "I Love Joan Jett" as well. This second version of the Arrows hit done with the Blackhearts instead of what Joan did with Steve Jones and Paul Cook has a lot more punch, grinding guitars, percussive energy.
The album is consistent in applying Joan's influences, particularly 60's rock with a thick layer of dynamite hard-rock attack of guitar, drums, and kick-a** vocals from the woman herself, as seen in the lovers' drama of "(I'm Gonna) Run Away."
"Love Is Pain" is a throwback to 60's girl-groups like the Shangri-Las or the Angels, but is as blistering as the title track.
The cover of the Halos' "Nag" duplicates the sounds of the original, down to the pause and one of the Blackhearts speaking a line on cue, almost like "Summertime Blues." Also here as a bonus track is the same song but with assistance from the Coasters, whose sound this is a takeoff on.
The other big hit from this album was her Top Ten cover of Tommy James' #1 hit "Crimson And Clover," and the Blackhearts' harmonies in the refrain bring an 80's hard rock update while giving a nod to the original.
Her cover of the Dave Clark Five's boot-stomping "Bits And Pieces" is another standout due to the beginning stand-alone drums and alternating vocals between Joan and the Blackhearts.
For an earful of Bo Diddley-type rockabilly done with the Jett sound, check out "Be Straight." And I'll be straight and say it rocks out like the others. And for something more punk mixed with a "Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting" energy, there's "You're Too Possessive."
The Christmas song "Little Drummer Boy" was on version 1 of I Love Rock And Roll as the album was released around Christmas-time. After the holidays, it was later replaced by the B-side of "Crimson And Clover," the engaging "Oh Woe Is Me," featuring a loud alley cat screech from Jett, also present here.
As for the extra tracks, the cover versions of "Louie Louie" and "Summertime Blues" also ended up on Flashback, but the latter is particularly dynamite. A live version of "You Don't Know What You've Got" from Bad Reputation is included.
What's also intriguing are songs recorded during the sessions that never made it. "Rebel Rebel" is on Flashback, "Wait For Me" had to wait a decade or so before turning up on Notorious, and "I Love Playing With Fire" ended up on the controversy-laden Album (hints: hidden track, "Star Star", yank from shelves).
Probably the definitive Joan Jett studio album, as it eventually went diamond, thanks to its #1 title track that spent nearly two months on the charts. Well, gotta run. Gotta put another dime in the jukebox, baby, or I'll be in pieces, bits and pieces.