Like many others in the early 80’s, I first learned about Joan Jett from the classic I Love Rock-n-Roll. However, since all of my music (or most of it anyway) came from the Columbia Record & Tape program and I was limited by what they actually had available. You may remember back in the day (before this wonderful thing called the Internet) that information about tracks available on a particular recording was limited by the editorial space allotted for the individual description found in the catalog. Often the editors would only list a couple of the tracks in addition to their short description.
I knew Joan Jett sang I Love Rock-n-Roll, but I didn’t know what album it was on. (Yah, I know it was on the same titled album, but at the time I hadn’t actually heard a dj say so.) The only tape available in the monthly paper catalog was Bad Reputation. Going out on a limb I ordered it and just hoped that the I Love Rock-n-Roll was on it. It wasn’t, but in the long run that was okay because this was another cassette that I wore out.
Honestly, Joan Jett was a little more punk than this New Wave-esque boy generally liked to listen to. However, Joan’s delivery of the lyrics over her hard-rock guitar really struck a chord with me (so to speak). The lead and title track, Bad Reputation, sets the tone for most of the album.
I don’t give a damn ’bout my bad reputation
You’re living in the past it’s a new generation
A girl can do what she wants to do and that’s
What I’m gonna do
An’ I don’t give a damn ‘ bout my bad reputation
One couldn’t really say that Joan sang the lyrics as much as she shouted them over a hard-rock guitar. This debut album, never caught on like her later I Love Rock-n-Roll, but there are many good tracks on it. Bad Reputation itself was used much later in a scene from the first Shrek movie (the scene where he fights the soldiers in an arena).
Some tracks were remakes of stuff that I recognized from listening to “nostalgic radio” on one of Denver’s FM stations (nostalgic radio played mom and dad’s music). You Don’t Own Me begins as a ballad with great piano and then switches to, you guessed it, hard rocking guitar; Wooly Bully retains the original acoustic piano background and feeling from the original… with added electric guitar; and Shout too retains the original feeling and Joan’s shouting vocals seem very apropos.
Two additional songs really stood out in my mind. Listening to Joan on my headphones asking Do You Wanna Touch?… Oh, yeah! I did.
Every girl an’ boy
Needs a little joy
All you do is sit an’ stare
Beggin’ on my knees
Baby, won’t you please
Run your fingers through my hair
The other outstanding track, All Right With The Boys, was an affirmation for me that she did, in fact, like boys (I really wasn’t sure at the time). These two songs were exactly opposite on another on the cassette. In fact, if I timed it just right, I could wait for the end of one track, flip the cassette in my Walkman and the other track would be exactly queued. Do the same at the end of each song and I could just listen to All Right With The Boys and Do You Wanna Touch over and over again. Later, when Sony came out with the auto-reverse cassette feature a simple push of a button would change songs.