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The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bad Reputation was the debut solo album by Joan Jett, the first record she made after The Runaways disbanded. Jett's fierce independence as a woman rocker is the strongest force on this album, and the strongest theme in the original and cover material. For example, Jett covers include the old Leslie Gore song "You Don't Own Me" and the Gary Glitter song "Doing Alright With the Boys." Jett also covers Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)," which is clearly about sex and includes the lines "Don't it turn you on?" and "Don't it make you feel so fine?"); this track also mentions "whiskey and rye," though it's not about drinking. The original album tracks include one curse word ("damn"), but a bonus live version of the title track switches the word "s--t" for "damn."
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What's the story?
BAD REPUTATION (1981, Boardwalk Records) was the first solo album by Joan Jett after her band The Runaways disbanded. The record has a lot of the same attitude The Runaways had (girl power, powerful female sexuality), but even more independence. Like a lot of early punk artists, Jett also covers a lot of early rock 'n' roll songs that fit with her sensibility. Though the title track, \"Bad Reputation,\" and her cover of Gary Glitter's \"Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)\" were minor hits, the major labels turned Jett away, so she started her own label, Blackheart Records: the first woman-owned record label in the U.S. Her first album on Blackheart was the No. 2 hit album I Love Rock N' Roll, which yielded two Top 10 singles: the No. 1-selling title track and \"Crimson and Clover,\" which rose to No. 6 on the Billboard chart.
Is it any good?
Bad Reputation has its high and low points, but the best songs on the record make it well worth owning. "Bad Reputation" -- which rose only to No. 48 when the album was first released -- has become an anthem for Joan Jett; it's a near-perfect Ramones-style punk song with Jett playing buzzsaw guitar and singing endearing lines like "A girl can do what she wants to do and that's / What I'm gonna do." Jett's version of Gary Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)" rocks a lot harder than the original and sounds more provocative coming from a woman singer. On "Too Bad on Your Birthday" and "Let Me Go," Jett doesn't seem to put the same heart into her singing; the arrangements end up sounding more like regular rock records. But she does sing the heck out of "Wooly Bully," of all things, and she really does something new with the Leslie Gore hit "You Don't Own Me," selling it in a much tougher way. Joan Jett doesn't have Chrissie Hynde's pipes or Patti Smith's artistic genius, but she claimed rock 'n' roll for women in a huge way in the 1970s, and this release successfully established her strength as a solo artist.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the song "Bad Reputation." Do you think women are taken more seriously by the music industry now than they were in 1981 when Joan Jett made this album?
Why do you think Joan Jett covered Gary Glitter's "Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)" on Bad Reputation? How does the sexuality of that song tie in with Jett's themes of independence and woman power?
Why do you think Joan Jett was an important artist in her time?
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