.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/430de25c50fe4e966d7700c35202b6d174181970.JPG Album

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Album

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
September 1, 1983

It's no surprise that Album leads off with the biting "Fake Friends," a rant against the hangers-on who invariably accompany fame, nor that the most insistent line in "The French Song" is the repeated phrase "I am what I am." After all, you don't get hurtled from cult status to the top of the charts without enduring a certain amount of stress. Yet the most striking thing about Album is that, by and large, it ignores the success of its platinum predecessor, 1981's I Love Rock and Roll, and continues on the course set by Joan Jett's debut, Bad Reputation.

Just as the postglitter raunch of Bad Reputation evolved into the semimetal crunch of Rock and Roll, Album finds the Blackhearts' sound refined even further. This time around, the stylistic reference point is early-Seventies Rolling Stones, as evinced by the chugging rhythm-guitar hooks of "Secret Love" and "Coney Island Whitefish" or the punchy horn charts that top "The French Song" and "Handyman." But Jett and the Blackhearts retain their own identity throughout; no matter how much the ending of "Handyman" may recall Exile on Main Street, for example, its sound clearly belongs to this band. Nowhere is this clearer than on the Blackhearts' cover of "Everyday People," in which they harmonize well enough to survive comparisons to the Sly Stone original yet still manage to make the sound entirely their own.

But although such touches make this Jett's most consistent album to date, there's nothing here that stands out the way the title tracks on I Love Rock and Roll and Bad Reputation did. (Is that why they called it Album?) In addition, several of the LP's potential high points are fumbled by Jett's inelegant singing (in particular, "Handyman"). None of this is enough to make Album a disappointment, but it doesn't make a very strong argument for Jett as a major talent, either.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “American Girl”

    Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

    It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com