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The Hit List

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★★★½☆
(17 Reviews)

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  • 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.

    Posted on December 3, 2009