Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1988: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- Up Your Alley

After listening to the 1988 “Up Your Alley” album from Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, I have come to the conclusion that Joan is the second best American artist not to have cracked the UK. British readers are free to debate me on this point. The facts are that the album charted in the US, Finland, Sweden, Canada and New Zealand but didn’t seem to make a dent in the UK charts. Furthermore, I didn’t know of the album in 1988, nor did anyone I know mention it. Therefore, Joan now is set firmly in my mind as the second greatest American artist not to have cracked the UK, Billy Squier is number one. Shame, because “Up Your Alley” is a damn fine album.

The funny thing is that there is an air of familiarity with the first two songs. A little research revealed that the opener, “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” has appeared elsewhere, including the movie, “Birds of Prey.” I think I know the second track, “Ridin’ With James Dean” by name but both songs come out and grab you by the throat. After your eardrums have been blown apart by the first two songs, things slow down with the power ballad, “Little Liar.” Joan makes the transition without breaking sweat and shows she can sing ballads as well as rockers. Furthermore, this is the first song where I fully appreciate the guitar work of Ricky Byrd but he does lay down some great solos all over this album.

Two covers come next, first up is “Tulane,” a Chuck Berry original which is pretty good although I wouldn’t debate any claims that it’s filler. The second is a cover of The Stooges classic, “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Of the two, I prefer this cover. This track showcases another aspect of the entire album, the bassline and the pleasant surprise which came my way when I learned that Kasmir Sulton of Utopia fame provided those cool basslines.

Side two goes back to originals, although Desmond Child gets song writing credits on the opener, the ballad and “You Want In, I Want Out.” Anyway, before “You Want In, I Want Out,” which is a decent song, which again highlights Kasmir’s bass skills, is a band written ditty called, “I Still Dream About You.” They forego the Child inspired commercial melodies and just go totally rock out here. I class this one as the hidden gem for its sheer power. Guitars rule on “Just Like in the Movies” and I regret not including Joan in my ancient post of great rhythm guitarists. Ricky lays down an interesting guitar solo to say the least. The horn section gives this song a cool added dimension.

More guitar riffs adorn “Desire.” This is a slower song with doo-wop backing vocals. Not the greatest song on the album but not filler either. Thommy Price is let off the leash on “Back It Up” as he pounds the skins at the beginning of the track. This is raucous but catchy rocker and another hidden gem. “Play That Song Again” is the perfect closer for the album. It has a catchy melody behind the power chords which makes me want to say, “play this album again.”

Track Listing:

  1. I Hate Myself for Loving You
  2. Ridin’ With James Dean
  3. Little Liar
  4. Tulane
  5. I Wanna Be Your Dog
  6. I Still Dream About You
  7. You Want In, I Want Out
  8. Just Like in the Movies
  9. Desire
  10. Back It Up
  11. Play That Song Again
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts

Joan Jett- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Ricky Byrd- lead guitar, backing vocals

Kasmir Sulton- bass, backing vocals

Thommy Price- drums

Additional Musicians:

The Uptown Horns

Robert Lawson- keyboards

Frank Carillo- guitar, backing vocals

Kenny Laguna- various instruments, backing vocals

Desmond Child, Chuck Kentiss, Louie Merlino, Paul Carrizzo- backing vocals

My weird mind again, I stated that back in 1982, after a bloody battle, Joan Jett usurped Pat Benatar’s throne as Queen of Rock. Six years later, I can’t say if Pat got her throne back or is Joan still the ultimate queen. If I were to judge but this album and Pat’s 1988 album, “Wide Awake in Dreamland,” I would say Joan keeps the crown as “Up Your Alley” totally rocks!

Next post: Dead Artists

To buy Rock and Roll Children, email me at: tobychainsaw@hotmail.com

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12 Responses to “Great Rock/Metal Albums of 1988: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts- Up Your Alley”

  1. This album did pretty well here. Especially “I Hate MySelf for Loving You”. But between this one and Pat’s Wide Awake in Dreamland, I lean more to Pat on that one. Great review sir!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good to see you’ve posted the album and I must say my favourite is I Hate Myself For Loving You which sounds like Def Leppard’s Armageddon It crossed with Pat Benatar’s All Fired Up thereby underlining my view that she sounds like Def Leppard crossed with Pat Benatar!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great, now I have to check out this album! I only know “I Hate Myself for Loving You.”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Can’t beat Joan, that’s a voice you need to have lived a lot to have earned.

    Liked by 1 person

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