I Love Rock ‘n Roll is the second studio album by Joan Jett and the first with her backing band The Blackhearts. Soon after the first recording sessions at Soundworks Studios, original Blackheart guitarist Eric Ambel was replaced by Ricky Byrd. It is Jett’s most commercially successful album to date with over 10 million copies sold, largely due to the success of the title track, which was released as a single soon after the album was released.
Joan Jett saw “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” performed on TV by Arrows in 1976 and was taken away by the song. It was a staple of her set list for years before the album was recorded.
Along with the Arrows song, plenty of other covers populated the album: “Nag” (originally by The Halos),”Bits and Pieces” (The Dave Clark Five), “You’re Too Possessive” (The Runaways), and “Crimson and Clover” (Tommy James & The Shondells). Of the last song, Jett later commented that “People worried that I didn’t change the words in ‘Crimson and Clover’ to ‘him’ from ‘her’. It was only because that wouldn’t have rhymed.”
Other covers appeared in limited editions: “Louie Louie” (Richard Berry, later performed by The Kingsmen) and “Summertime Blues” (Eddie Cochran) were included as bonus tracks on the CD release, and the traditional Christmas carol “Little Drummer Boy” was a seasonal addition to the LP.
I Love Rock ‘n Roll was made at a vigorous pace. “During the weekdays we’d be in the studio and during the weekends we’d travel around the New York area, the Northeast, doing gigs,” Jett recalled. “So we were doing both without really stopping. Which was good I thought, it really kept us together, it kept us sharp.”
Early copies of the album released during December 1981 ended with the track “Little Drummer Boy”. However, after the holiday season passed, the track was replaced by the newly recorded “Oh Woe Is Me” on most pressings. The LP saw a vinyl reissue in 2009 containing both “Little Drummer Boy”, “Oh Woe Is Me”, and the rehearsal version of “You Don’t Know What You’ve Got” that was the original B-side to Boardwalk Records issues of the “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” single. It was possible to acquire “Oh Woe Is Me” without purchasing a replacement album, as it was also released as the B-side of the “Crimson and Clover” single.
“Summertime Blues” was originally left off the vinyl LP, and Boardwalk passed on releasing it as an official commercial single. Instead, Boardwalk placed the song as the B-side of “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)”, in a promo-only 12-inch release (Boardwalk NB-019-S-5) sent to US rock radio stations. Many DJs and programmers preferred the B-side however, and “Summertime Blues” became a Most Added listing. (The A-side nonetheless peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.) The song was eventually released as a one-sided single in Canada and as a 12-inch single in Australia, accompanied by “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)”.
The initial CD release was in 1992 on Blackheart Records and included three bonus tracks.
The album was digitally remastered and reissued on CD in 1998 and included two additional bonus tracks.
In conjunction with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 18, 2015, exactly 33 ⅓ years after I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll was originally released on November 18, 1981, a 2CD/2LP titled I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll 33 ⅓ Anniversary Edition was released. This commemorative edition paired the original album with a second disc of previously unreleased live recordings made in New York from 1981.
The portrait image used for the cover was taken by British photographer Mick Rock. It is widely considered one of the most iconic images in rock music history. Rock has said his vision for the portrait was clear: “I saw her as a female Elvis”.
The styling played a part in Jett’s overall appeal, Creem observed and asked rhetorically, “who ever said that dark bangs and well-applied mascara had nothing to do with rock ‘n’ roll?” Sounds described her look as the classic “tomboy rock girl”, and quoted her regarding the record label’s initial expectations:
“They wanted me to lie on a couch in leopardskin like Pat Benatar or something,” she gasps, “You know I couldn’t do anything like that!” (by wikipedia)
I Love Rock-n-Roll, Joan Jett’s first record with the Blackhearts, was a tougher, louder album than Bad Reputation, primarily because her new backing band gave her a more coherent sound. That dynamic, hard rock crunch is what made the title track into an international hit, but it also gives the album dimension — not only can Jett & the Blackhearts tear up heavy glam rockers, but they also pull off the mock psychedelia of Tommy James & the Shondells’ “Crimson and Clover” with aplomb. On the whole, I Love Rock-n-Roll doesn’t have as many strong songs as its predecessor, but the band’s muscular, gritty sound makes the album just as good as Bad Reputation. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)
Ricky Byrd (guitar, background vocals)
Lee Crystal (drums, background vocals)
Joan Jett (vocals, guitar)
Gary Ryan (bass, background vocals)
Eric Ambel (guitar, background vocals on 05. + 10.)
Will “Dub” Jones (vocals on 10.)
Kenny Laguna (keyboards, percussion, background vocals)
01. I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll (Hooker/Merrill) 2.59
02. (I’m Gonna) Run Away (Jett/Laguna) 2.31
03. Love Is Pain (Jett) 3.09
04. Nag (Crier) 2.46
05. Crimson And Clover (James/Lucia Jr.) 3.19
06. Victim Of Circumstance (Jett/Laguna) 2.57
07. Bits And Pieces (Clark/Smith) 2.09
08. Be Straight (Jett/Kihn/Laguna) 2.43
09. You’re Too Possessive (Jett) 3.38
10. Little Drummer Boy (Davis/Onorati/Simeone) 4.17
Best version ever: