.
http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/7f9923f59f85b08a0879ec3d2d4ad495fd974a61.JPG Bad Reputation

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Bad Reputation

Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 4 0
April 30, 1981

Of the Runaways, Joan Jett was the true rocker, instinctively realizing rock & roll's opportunities for pleasure, violence and triumph. But her identity was obscured by singer Cherie Currie's starlet moves, producer-manager Kim Fowley's sleaze-sisters hype and group chops that never overcame their limited heavy-metal sources.

Bad Reputation hits closer to home. Doing Lesley Gore's "You Don't Own Me," for instance, is a great gesture. Like anyone who loves the tune, Jett knows it's an anthem: lachrymose teenage kitsch turned epic. And though the LP works better as gesture than as music, the music's still the best this artist has ever made. The sound is crude and rich, with Joan Jett's raw rhythm guitar at the center of almost every cut. At times, the marching percussion and massed backup vocals become militant and incantatory. Elsewhere, Jett sets full girl-group harmonies against jagged raunch-rock, lets go with pure Dead Boys blitz and manages a "Wooly Bully" whose joy outdistances its camp. Throughout, she sings these songs the way she hears them — as a fan who understands the value of rock fantasies even after she's stopped believing they'll actually happen.

Unfortunately, Bad Reputation is flawed by its literal-mindedness — the arrangements pump along gamely yet rarely swing or soar — and by some unresourceful material. But in its mood and feel, Joan Jett's first solo album is a determined retelling of what sometimes seems like the truest rock story there is.

prev
Album Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    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

    “Bird on a Wire”

    Leonard Cohen | 1969

    While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com