I have this memory - which may or may not have much to do with reality - of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" and the Go-Go's' "We Got the Beat" both getting huge radio airplay at around the same time back in '81 or '82. I would have been about 11. For me, at least, it's been all downhill since.
Of course, it couldn't have been a picnic for Joan, either. After all, having a monster hit like "Rock 'n' Roll" often sounds the death knell for even the most promising of young artists. But Joan Jett was anything but a babe-in-the-the-woods even then, having been a member of the jailbait-as-marketing-tool band the Runaways for three years - a band that was (dare we say it) "big in Japan" and producers of the hit song "Cherry Bomb."
Post-"I Love Rock 'n' Roll," Joan Jett and the Blackhearts have released records somewhat sporadically (though 1988's Up Your Alley went platinum on the strength of the Top 10 single "I Hate Myself for Loving You" and 1994's Pure and Simple served as something of a comeback album). And, yet again proving her resiliency, Jett survived the 1987 cinematic debacle Light of Day with Michael J. Fox.
Which finally brings us to 2006 and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' latest CD, Sinner. Peering out from the cover with a bit of kittenish come-hither, the now 45-year-old Jett still looks like she could carve out a man's kidneys with one expertly finessed stiletto. More importantly, the music still packs the hard-rock heft and tough-chick riffs that have always defined her sound with the Blackhearts. So... call it another comeback if you must, but Joan Jett has been making this type of music for a full two/thirds of her life, not to mention inspiring the next generation(s) of riot grrls to strap on guitars and make just as big a racket as the boys ever did or ever could. She empowers them also with her stature as founder and leader of Blackheart Records for the past 25 years and as host of her own Sirius radio show, Joan Jett's Radio Revolution.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are currently on the road with this summer's Warped Tour. Check out their MySpace page [here] for a list of upcoming shows.
[MP3] "A 100 Miles Away"
[MP3] "Everyone Knows"