Saturday, September 22, 2018

Runaway Success: Joan Jett 60

Welcome to the weekend and milestone birthday time for another luminary of the firmament.
She began as part of a legendary band, but found her greatest triumphs after splitting from them at the end of the 1970s.
She might never have broken out as a solo star, to the world-ruling degree she did, had it not been for the help and promotion afforded her initial solo LPs by a seminal radio station.
The breakthrough came just as legendary WLIR-FM on Long Island in NY was transitioning into a "new music" playlist that would feature a whole host of post-punk and New Wave bands and artists.
In the Summer of 1981, WLIR began to play her new single in heavy rotation. Then MTV came online in August -- just two weeks prior to this performance -- and the track and its video became the global anthem of the season. It's still considered one of the most beloved songs of the 1980s.
Born in 1958, she is turning the big 6-0 today, and wouldn't you know it, the show I selected to work on and share comes from one of those incredible WLIR "Party In the Park" broadcasts they used to do back in the day.
This tape is so golden, because it's dubbed direct onto cassette from the original, live remote feed... vintage, virgin WLIR air!!! I swear that radio station filled every waking hour of my high school life, 1980-84. If they'd have let me listen to it all day in school, I would have. Gladly.
If you went by the sheer number of bands they helped establish, WLIR might be the most significant radio station of our lifetimes. There aren't too many that could say they had a full-length documentary made about them, but WLIR-FM in Garden City -- perhaps the last of the classic FM stations of the Rock era -- is one of them.
This capture is no exception to the myth. It sounds like the whole concert start to finish -- I can't even determine where the tape flip is -- even though the ultra-classic original vinyl boot of this performance contains an extra song no one is really certain comes from the same show.
Even the date was uncertain -- it was thought to be from either the 8th or the 15th -- but someone posted their original ticket to a thread about it online, and it's from the 15th. These outdoor free shows took place every weekend of 1981 and went out live on WLIR.
It was also filmed, although no footage has ever surfaced from it save a few tunes in a WLIR promo video from 35 years ago about the "Party In the Park" series.
I slightly reworked it to bring out its "balls" and give it more of the necessary heft, and I think I did a decent job. I decided to leave out the mystery track, which sounded way thinner and was difficult if not impossible to sonically match and effectively integrate into the main tape.
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
WLIR-FM's "Party In the Park"
Fireman's Memorial Park
Hempstead, NY

01 WLIR-FM intro by Denis McNamara & John DeBella
02 Bad Reputation
03 Be Straight
04 You Don't Know What You've Got
05 Bits and Pieces
06 Wait for Me
07 Summertime Blues
08 Victim of Circumstance
09 I Love Rock 'n' Roll
10 Nag
11 Crimson & Clover
12 You're Too Possessive
13 Love Is Pain
14 Black Leather
15 Do You Wanna Touch Me
16 Star Star
17 Shout
18 band introductions
19 I Love Playin' with Fire
20 Wooly Bully
21 Rebel Rebel

Total time: 1:15:10

Joan Jett – vocals, guitar
Gary Ryan – bass, vocals
Lee Crystal – drums
Eric Ambel – guitar, vocals

pitch-corrected cassette master of an original WLIR-FM broadcast of "The Party In the Park";
slightly refurbished by EN, September 2018
This set is near to flawless anyway, as Joan and her mates destroy the packed field as a slow drizzle falls. It almost plays like a live Greatest Hits thing, really.
I'll be back -- maybe tomorrow, not sure yet. But Joan Jett -- how many women and girls has she positively role modeled for? How much great music has she given us over her 40+ years doing it? -- is 60 today and that's a reason to celebrate! That is, if you love Rock 'n' Roll... I know I do.--J.

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