Joan Jett's early 1980s revival of her glam rock childhood, dressed in leather and a truly believable bad girl attitude, was always one of the most diverting spectacles of the era. With a repertoire which shamelessly recycled the Gary Glitter songbook, and, of course, a monster hit lifted from one of Mickey Most's doomed cast-offs ("I Love Rock'n'Roll" was originally recorded by Arrows, a pretty boy pop-bait trio which was never heard of again), Jett was a joyous jukebox whose day in the sun should never have come and gone so quickly. Or so history would have us believe. In fact, all the qualities which were hers way back when were still in full flight umpteen years later. This Means War reiterates both a Toronto show from 1982 and a Colorado gig in 1998, and both emerge a screaming firestorm of hyperbolic energy. No matter that the 1982 sound quality is so appalling you wouldn't feed it to the dog, the mix of covers and originals doesn't let up for a moment. A thrashing "I Love Rock'n'Roll" and a deceptively souped up "Rebel Rebel" end the performance in fine, fine style. The 1998 set is less homespun, more a trawl through everybody's back pages. The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb" takes her back to her own musical youth; spirited covers of "Crimson and Clover," "Love Is All Around," "Wild One," "Roadrunner," and the Replacements' "Androgyny" take the audience back to theirs, no matter when they were born. And while the sound lets the side down again, sometimes the energy's enough to see you through. At least, it is if you, too, have a dime to put in the jukebox, baby.
This Means War! Review
by Dave Thompson