Thursday, November 14, 2013

Joan Jett and the Blackhawks-Unvarnished (Deluxe Edition)

Blackheart Records

"Unvarnished" marks the tenth full-length studio album from Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. It's also Joan Jett's first studio album in seven years! Her last studio album, 2006's "Sinner", featured a couple of covers from the likes of Sweet and The Replacements while this new one features ten original tracks with contributions from Dave Grohl ( The album's opener, "Any Weather (606 Version)", was co-written by Grohl and while it's a decent enough number the album seems as if it get's better as it rolls along!) and Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!). The "Deluxe Edition" that I have been enjoying was downloaded off of iTunes and features fourteen tracks in all. With the addition of  "Seriously", "Different (Demo Version)", "Any Weather (Blackhearts)" and "Everybody Needs a Hero" the album takes on a different vibe, but you simply cannot go wrong with whatever version you purchase! Especially as the standard release has some really solid material like the pop-rock "Soulmates to Strangers" (co-written with Laura Jane Grace), which works better then you would expect it to (as does the track "Different"), and the insanely catchy "TMI". And speaking of "TMI", only someone like Joan Jett could make a simple chorus like "TMI TMI Too Much Info" sound this freakin' cool! Seriously friends "TMI", which recalls the glam rock days of the seventies (Sweet, Gary Glitter), was stuck in my head for well over a week afterwards! Then there's "Make It Back" which features some great guitar playing as well as the semi-rocker "Reality Mentality". Both "TMI" and "Reality Mentality" take jabs at reality TV (which is anything but reality folks) and this new "Hey everyone look at me!" world we live in where people feel obsessed with sharing their whole lives on Facebook and the like. Meanwhile, given the impact of losing both of her parents, both "Fragile" and "Hard To Grow Up" touch upon more personal and pressing issues for Joan such as loss and facing the reality that time has a way of changing your life in ways you can never truly be prepared for. And of course the Dave Grohl collaboration "Any Weather (606 Version)" was written in response to the tragedy of Hurricane Sandy. While it's not the best studio album to come from Joan and her band-mates it's still a thoroughly enjoyable release that grows on you over time. While my version is a digital deluxe version it does look as if Best Buy's deluxe CD version can with four lives cuts so it's not as if any of the misc. releases of "Unvarnished" would be a bad deal.

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