“Greatest Hits” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Artist: Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Title: “Greatest Hits”
Label: Blackheart Records
Release Date: 3/9/2010
Genre: Rock
Rating: 3.5/5

Arriving just in time for the premiere of the biographical motion picture “The Runaways” comes a greatest hits package by one of the groups founding members Joan Jett and her band The Blackhearts. In The Runaways, Jett played rhythm guitar and was one of the core songwriters during the bands short tenure and while this compilation features a couple of the tunes she penned for the group it is focused on her solo work with The Blackhearts. As a collection I felt this was stronger than it was weak but even despite my enjoying a large portion of what they offered up, I had to say that a couple of the tunes had left me wondering why they had been included. The release wisely gives us the expected standards from her debut album with “Cherry Bomb” and “Bad Reputation” and it’s great to blast these two tracks nice and loud and see just how strong they have remained for the Punkish Rock side of things. From “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” we get the expected juggernaut title track and the Tommy James cover of “Crimson & Clover” but I had a little surprise when I realized that they left of “Little Drummer Boy”. Yeah I understand that this is not a holiday album, but Jett did such an interesting version of the tune and it was from a time when artists were not dishing out holiday numbers with reckless abandon. “The French Song” was always a favorite as was their cover of Sly Stone’s “Everyday People”. As I listened to the recordings being delivered here I had to smile when I think of just how many songs Jett did covers of and this was likely due to her association with producer Kenny Laguna. Both Laguna and Jett founded Blackheart Records, the label that released this retrospective.

A couple of omissions that I would have liked to see included are “Coney Island Whitefish” and “Star, Star” which was originally done by The Rolling Stones and I guess was too difficult to license for the release in this economy. I would have sacrificed “Backlash” for any number of tracks and had to say that “Activity Grrrl” did not find me thinking it needed inclusion on the retrospective either. I rather enjoyed the fact that Jett did a cover of The Troggs “Love Is All Around” which many might remember as being the theme song for The Mary Tyler Moore Show (and yes I realize that I am dating myself with such a reference). The packaging is definitely an Eco-friendly green one and when you open it up it has the feeling of being a mini-vinyl album. The individual CD’s are housed in sleeves that bear the album’s title just like small records would be and while there photos presented to the buyer, they are very old ones of the singer and in black and white. When it comes to a hits package I love the inclusion of a booklet for the purposes of historical overview but with this release we don’t get one which I found to be a problem. In their defense they do keep the price of the recordings very low and affordable, but its inclusions such as this that I feel upgrade the quality of any sort of hits package. You might feel differently on this view but you cannot fault me for wanting to find more photos of the singer from across the years and her band members who helped her make it happen. Jett’s music would not have been the same without the contributions of musicians like Ricky Byrd (guitar) and Lee Crystal (drums) so points are to be given to them as well for the tunes we are enjoying on this compilation.

The question remains whether or not this is a release that you should investigate and while the price is fine, there might be some concern with the tracks. For someone like me, I felt it had more strong points than less even though had I been in the production meeting for it that I would have advised a couple of different numbers. If you own no Joan Jett releases then this is a perfect jumping on point for you and an album that will give you a solid idea as to her many contributions to Rock music and that is a very good thing. I’m sure that The Runaways movie will be interesting and it’s something that I will surely see when it comes out.

Track Listing:
1. Cherry Bomb
2. You Drive Me Wild
3. School Days
4. Love Is Pain
5. Bad Reputation
6. You Don’t Know What You’ve Got
7. I Want You
8. I Love Rock N’ Roll
9. (I’m Gonna) Run Away
10. Crimson And Clover
11. Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)
12. The French Song
13. Everyday People
14. Fake Friends
15. Light Of Day
16. I Hate Myself For Loving You
17. Backlash
18. Activity Grrrl
19. Love Is All Around
20. Androgynous
21. A.C.D.C.

Official Website: http://www.joanjett.com

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