Joan Jett Unvarnished
By Lucy Mills
I grew up in a world that told girls they couldn’t play rock ‘n’ roll…My parents taught me I could be anything in the world I wanted to be…My guitar is not a thing, it is an extension of myself. It is who I am. – Joan Jett
An astonishing forty years since rock ‘n’ roll first exposed its punk pioneering dominatrix, Joan Jett returns to the limelight with Joan Jett and The Blackheart’s new album “Unvarnished.” Listen out as Jett and band continue to rock the planet complete with Suzi Quatro inspired shag haircut, leathery air of coolness and killer onstage presence at Newport New this month.
Jett has come a long way since her singing and guitar-playing debut at age 15 in The Runaways, a mid ‘70s emerging pumk-metal band best known for hits such as “Cherry Bomb,” “School Days” and “Queens of Noise.” It has been argued that Jett’s continued career has made The Runaways who they are today. Even after the band split in 1979 Jett remained, everlasting as a dedicated musician, originator, innovator and visionary. Jett has always provided for her fans, forever performing, and warranting her title as Godmother of Punk.
The upcoming release, “Unvarnished,” due to be released October 1, marks a pivotal turning point in Jett’s life, reflecting how her career as a musician has been a monumental and nurturing role in her existence. “Unvarnished” demonstrates her growth and development in conjunction with her music, and more noticeably her lyrics, much like previous album “Sinner” from 1996.
The music is what her fans should expect from her now, clearly no longer the teenaged, angst-filled singer/guitarist that the ‘70s classified her as. Jett’s music contains personal circumstance, minus the adolescent context of her earlier work; the death of her parents, in the past decade, being one of the most contributing factors to the songs on the album.
When you listen to “Unvarnished,” Joan Jett and The Blackhearts are relatable, not to be mistaken as serious. She encompasses the topical events of our world. The track entitled “Make It Back” is about Hurricane Sandy. Jett also addresses the modern tendency to share online, and the effects this contemporary action has on society.
For all you avid Joan Jett fans out there, it will come as no surprise that her latest work compares greatly to the Joan Jett of the ‘70s, when she touched the hearts and minds of many of her punk-rock ‘n’ roller followers with hard-hitting issues they could relate to at the time, such as sex, booze and life on the streets. This continued with Jett’s career into the ‘80s, along with The Blackhearts, with hits “Crimson and Clover” “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” plus the notorious and universally acclaimed “Bad Reputation,” a track that will continue to be the anthem that defines the struggling transition to adulthood.
Jett’s career thrived at the same time as bands such as The Ramones, Blondie, and Talking Heads. They were also part of the raunchy, sexy and vocally rustic “Who gives a shit?” music movement. Jett spread her wings to work with the pioneering band Sex Pistols on the single “I Love Rock n Roll,” the video of which made a storming impression on MTV, making it to No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks.
However, what is so visibly uniquely hardcore and mystical for Jett’s fans, music enthusiasts and style gurus of today, is that Jett remains, performs and headlines, demonstrating an everlasting sound, look and respect from her industry peers!
Named one of the only two women of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time in 2003 by Rolling Stone, and known for eight Platinum & Gold albums, nine Top 40 Singles, she may not have once given a damn about it, but, in her 40th year as a rock n roller, Jett’s reputation continues as a pioneer. Plus, with contributions from Dave Grohl and Against Me’s Laura Jane Grace, I think we can all expect great things this October 1 release of Joan Jett and The Blackheart’s fourteenth studio album, “Unvarnished.”
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts