LP: I Love Rock’n’Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
1981 the Boardwalk Entertainment Co NB1-33243
Favorite Track: Crimson and Clover
A Brief History of the Jett-Sett
Crimson played drums. Clover played guitar. They both sang. Crimson had long red curly hair that simulated lava erupting from a volcano as she banged her snares. Clover had blond hair she kept tucked in a beret (on stage), her elongated limbs wildly broadcasting complex and fiery rhythms. Their band was called The Jett-Sett in honor of how they met. Crimson had taken the bus to the Southside neighborhood and went to RattleIt Records in search of Joan Jett’s I Love Rock’n’Roll. In the basement, she found the beautiful blue and pink cover in the used bins underneath the wall of fame. She held it up admiring the beautiful lead singer with darkened eyes daring someone to suggest women don’t rock.
“Is there another copy of that?” a demure alto voice said behind her.
Crimson shook her head, but started to expound her love for Joan Jett and they were eating at the Food Co-Op across the street with the record in a brown bag sitting between them and then they were living together in an apartment where they threw late night wine parties and ordered their instruments online. Their early practices were legendary not for their quality, hey everyone sucks at first, but for the sheer number of noise violations that managed to rack up by 5:00 pm. Their downstairs neighbor claimed their stomping around was causing Bernadette, her dog, to not get her beauty sleep. This led to their first single, a 7-inch titled Bernadette Stomp (B-side the rarely played live I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With Your Heart in My Hand) put out by Blackout Records with a cover illustration too esoteric to describe in words done by outsider artist, Count Vorobok.
Their first couple of shows were notorious. Nerves and a bottle of in lieu of payment bourbon led Clover to mess up the powerful opening chords to Watch Us Kiss (Your Ass Goodbye). A couple of Pike County boozers in hiker trash gear bellowed some intellectually-challenged insults, cheap beer spilling from their yellowed teeth. Crimson lost her first pair of drum sticks shoving them in what became known as the Marianus Trench. She finished the show with bloody knuckles. Their second show Clover would refuse to speak of, but rumors insist she was found in the bathroom with the band photographer in what was obviously not a Yoga lesson.
Their big break came when they recorded their first album Ionic, Doric, Corinthian. Rolling Stone and NME rated as one of the best new acts of 2009. The tracklist is:
1. Bernadette Stomp
2. Where Did I Forget My Chainsaw?
3. Last Nights Noodles
4. Crimson and Clover (cover)
5. My Other TV is a Dead Politician
1. Ludlow Gang
2. Potato Tattoos
3. Last Nights Underwear (Noodles mix)
4. Saag Paneer Bop
5. This is the End of the World and I’m Right
It failed to chart high, but it led the Jett-Sett to a prominent music festival at Lake MacDonald. They opened for The Grey Zig Zags, but their performance was the highlight of the weekend. Crimson made time signatures obsolete and managed to finish the set with most of the drum kit in tact (only known occasion of this). Clover invented a new guitar chord on stage during Where Did I Forget My Chainsaw? When one smart ass fan shouted “Free Bird” (some rock critics believe it to have been Count Vorobok himself disguised as a Dickensian Juggalo), they responded with a “Free Bird” that made Ronnie Van Zant’s ghost wave a lighter in the air. Following such a show was the infamous naked marker party which resulted in their second album being banned from stores until they released with a new cover (also done by Count Vorobok) done in neon black. Fans immediately nicknamed the album “the Plaid Album” but no one really understands the joke. It reached the bottom of the rock charts to which Crimson remarked, “Just turn the magazine around.”
Sadly, this seminal band was not to be around much longer. Crimson and Clover loved each other as sisters and as best friends. The intensity of this love would interrupt band practice with Clover gluing Crimson’s drumsticks together and Crimson putting bees in Clover’s socks. They agreed to take a temporary break and besides, their apartment lease was up. Clover moved to Europe for a while where she started a French Avant-Garde group called Joan D’Arc and the Talking Heads but was sued by David Byrne. Collectors pay a heft $100 for their only know 10″ Fear of Success. Crimson became a pirate, then a bus driver, then a postcard artist where she inspired children with her wonderful stories about a pair of scatterdoyens (magicians of a sort) named Abe and Leah. At a signing in Powell’s bookstore, Clover surprised her by asking for her autographed and it is rumored that they performed a secret set at the Mississippi Records store to an audience of 14 people. Also rumored, Count Vorobok sang on I Don’t Wanna Walk Around With Your Heart in My Hand, which lead to the rumors that he was romantically involved with either or both Crimson and Clover. But, in a private interview with the man, he claimed he was singing about Gonzo, the muppet. He is quoted, “You don’t get to be an outsider artist but loving what is normal.”