Keeping rock simple and primal, Joan Jett continues to
belt ‘em out with panache as this collection of hits (by
other artists) amply will demonstrate to the prospective
buyer. She struts it best on “Tush” a ZZTop staple,keeping
it sultry and raw but I also have to mention a few down
moments on this release where Joan is sans the Blackhearts.
With the performance of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have
You Ever Seen The Rain?” the CD loses a step and only a few
chorus lines save it from being skipped. “Up From The Skies”
also comes off lame but all in all Joan Jett delivers and
we’re all reminded that the aging star is one of us as the
hard-driving notes of “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” amplify
the lazy spaces of the room. We still miss “Do You Wanna Touch
Me?” and some of her other smashes while we savor the good mo-
ments of THE HIT LIST realizing she can still swagger rock’n'roll
style doing covers of some of our favorites.
Metal Album Reviews[RSS]
Keeping rock simple and primal, Joan Jett continues to
If Joan Jett knew how bad these sounded, she would have bought the rights to this recording and burned them. Its not even close, and she hardly tries. Better to have left this one as a “shower” session. Love her other works, am a fan.
Joan Jett (nee, Joan Marie Larkin) first gained fame as the teenage guitarist and singer for prototypical all-grrl band, the “Runaways,” (“Cherry Bomb”), then continued her success with “Joan Jett and the Blackhearts,” which produced (among many other songs) the hit “I Love Rock ‘N Roll,” which reached Billboard’s #1 spot in the Spring of 1982. Jett recorded many covers during the ‘Blackhearts’ years, including the seminal “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” (written by “The Arrows”), as well as a great version of “Crimson and Clover” and “Do You Wanna Touch Me.”
This 1990 release is all covers, and is mostly outstanding. Highlights include her ironic, aggressive rendition of “Pretty Vacant,” her voice appropriately drone-y, yet soaring over the backgrounds; “Love Hurts,” in which her covers outshines the original; and risky–because the originals were done by rock icons–but surprisingly superb and enjoyable treatments of “Love Me Two Times” (the Doors), “Up from the Skies (Jimi Hendrix),” “Have You Seen the Rain (Credence Clearwater Revival),” and “Celluloid Heroes (the Kinks)” featuring Ray Davies and a very satisfying guitar solo.
The songs are muscular, energetic, and heavy on the rhythm section (bass and drums), giving a raw, propulsive feeling to most of the songs (e.g., “Tush” in which–unlike ZZ Top–she doesn’t distort the pronunciation of the title, and “Dirty Deeds,” more honest and less gimmicky than the original, IMHO). The only disappointing cuts were “Roadrunner USA,” probably never a great song anyway, and her belabored try at “Time Has Come Today.” I must admit that I’ve never heard a good cover of the latter song. At least Joan’s take is far superior to the awful Steve Earle version. Apparently, only the Chambers Brothers can do this song right.
Parenthetically, Jett never received what she was owed for “I Love ROck and Roll,” and the ensueing years are a testament to her multifaceted talent (producing, acting), and longevity (she has been both pre- and post-punk, and was a participant/role model for some in the “riot grrl” movement]). Her “Greatest Hits” LPs will give you more original Joan Jett (including the famous “Cherry Bomb,” on which she “covers” the Runaways own song), but “The Hits” deserves your attention for the (mostly) great selection of songs sung by the now-iconic J. Jett. Excellent production (in New York City), nice photo of Jett on the cover, but, unfortunately, no liner notes.
Yes, I’d heard “I Love Rock and Roll” many times, and the title track to Good Music, as well as two singles from Up Your Alley, but I’d never had the gumption to get any of Joan Jett’s albums. Well, I ordered this back in 1990, thinking that with a title like that, it was a greatest hits. When I got it, I found it was an album of cover songs. Many of the songs I recognized, and those I didn’t, I fell for and went out of my way to discover who originally did them. Years later, when I bought Flashback, I was surprised at how many cover songs Joan had done. Oh yes, and she did Tommy James’ “Crimson And Clover” as well.On to The Hit List. I heard her version of AC-DC’s “Dirty Deeds” before the original so my bias is here. This is as hard-rocking as the original, with crunching guitars, and even a sax (!) in the middle.She really evinces the knife-twisting pain of “Love Hurts” in power ballad mode. After doing a song like “Little Liar” from Up Your Alley, she’s more than capable of interpreting this classic.One of the hardest rocking numbers is her take on the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant”, again appropriate as she did their song “EMI” only doing it as “MCA” to reflect the label she was on. She blazes through this without the intense and in-your-face whiny Rotten vocals, but with dignified energy.Her take on the Kinks’ ode and warning to movie stars, “Celluloid Heroes” puts in her emotional oomph in the ballad on how by virtue of being dreamers, everyone’s in show biz, or dreams of being one just by watching the silver screen, and she sings of a few stars out of the “some who succeeded, some who suffered in vain.” Key lines: “I wish my life was a nonstop Hollywood movie show/a fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes/because celluloid heroes never feel any pain/and celluloid heroes never really die.”That it contrasted by the grinding version of ZZ Top’s hard rock blues number “Tush” and a harder-edged version of the Chamber Brothers’ “Time Has Come Today”, whose original version I heard over and over for TIME magazine ads on TV.I haven’t heard the original of Jimi Hendrix’s “Up From The Skies”, but given what I heard of Hendrix’s material, Joan seems to do a decent version. Guess I better buy Axis:Bold As Love and find out.Her cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” is more straight ahead and not as bombastic as Bonnie Tyler’s rendition from Faster Than The Speed Of Night. However, there’s a harder edged guitars in the Doors’ “Love Me Two Times” that sets it aside from the original.A new version of the Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner” finishes up the album, and judging from the album, it seems a harder rendition, she’s got the power, the AM, the FM, the fifty thousand watts of power, oh yeah!What’s also interesting are two songs that didn’t make it here, a cover of The 1910 Fruitgum Co.’s “Indian Giver” and “Be My Lover” by …. I don’t know. Info from this was gotten from Flashback, but as for the Hit List, it’s clear that Joan easily acquits herself, putting the right amount of hard guitar on the rockers and emotional sensitivity in her voice in the ballads, and with her longtime producer Kenny Laguna doing the honours, it can’t be bad. This is probably the best cover songs album I’ve bought.
I stumbled on “The Hit List” by Joan Jett because I was checking out covers of “Time Has Come Today” by the Chambers Brothers. So I knew that it was a cover album and not to be confused with a collection of her hits, but I can certainly understand why anybody who picked this up without seeing the play list would feel there had a bait and switch perpetrated on them. When I first started listening to this album I was thinking that Joan Jett has one of the most distinctive sounds in rock and roll. It was not until we got to her cover of the Kinks’ “Celluloid Heroes” that the volume level got turned down enough to really focus on Jett’s vocals. But for the most part it is going to be those songs where she powers through the songs, such as ZZ Top’s “Tush” and the aforementioned “Time Has Come Today” that stand out. When she slows down for CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen Rain” it seems rather strange, because we have come to expect a specific sound from Jett and when she does something different, slower and more measured, we take it as just cooling down before she revs up again. If there is a happy medium between the two on this album it would be the cover of the Doors’ “Love Me Two Times,” mainly because of the rollicking guitar licks. I would have put “Roadrunner” by the Modern Lovers on that list, but Jett had already done a version of it four years earlier on “Good Music.”It is not surprising that Joan Jett would do a cover album given the success she had with Sly Stone’s “Everyday People” and Tommy James & the Shodells’ “Crimson & Clover.” The reason for the success is that whenever she is singing somebody else’s song she has always remained Joan Jett, a point that “The Hit List” amply demonstrates as she plays songs from AC/DC, the Sex Pistols, and Nazareth, most of whom are clearly kindred spirits.