Under Review: Wanda Jackson – The Party Ain’t Over

As pompadour- and tattoo-sporting punks tear through the good ol’ American music they call rockabilly, very few of the genre’s pioneers grace our presence. Perhaps it was the hard and fast lifestyle encouraged by their songs that claimed them, or possibly the waning interest thanks to more popular musical styles that pushed them out of the spotlight, but rockabilly’s surviving grandfathers and grandmothers are few in numbers. After a few decades focusing on traditional blues, folk and gospel, The Queen Of Rockabilly herself, Wanda Jackson, has reemerged with The Party Ain’t Over, a new set masterminded by retro-rock torchbearer Jack White.

With a massive band at his disposal (featuring members of The Raconteurs and a few of his own kin), White creates a bright, lively setting for Jackson’s trademark growls. The song selections (which are presumably mostly White’s choices) range from the rip-roaring “Shakin’ All Over,” originally by Jackson’s British contemporaries, Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, to the celebratory tropicalia of “Rum And Coca-Cola.” These versions probably won’t supplant the originals (or the most well-known covers), but Jackson’s takes are spirited and quite fun to listen to.

The Party Ain’t Over has already drawn comparisons to another Jack White-helmed career pick-me-up: Loretta Lynn’s Grammy-winning Van Lear Rose. Aside from the fact that Jackson’s record is all covers, the two records are indeed similar in that they capture what each musical lady does best. Lynn pens sweet, sorrowful ballads, and Jackson rips other people’s songs to shreds. Such is the case with her unlikely cover of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good,” which is not so odd once you consider Jackson’s own notorious reputation. Some of the album’s most dynamic moments are in the more eclectic arrangements that come towards the record’s close. The honky-tonky “Dust On The Bible” melds Jackson’s rock and gospel leanings, and the shoop-shoop tenderness of “Teach Me Tonight” shows Wanda’s versatility. By the acoustic rendition of Jimmie Rodgers’ “Blue Yodel #6” that concludes The Party Ain’t Over, it’s abundantly clear that, no matter how many of Jack White’s fingerprints grace it, this is undeniably Wanda’s album.


~ by E. on February 9, 2011.

One Response to “Under Review: Wanda Jackson – The Party Ain’t Over”

  1. At 73, Wanda can still kick the collective asses of all those young whippersnappers who think they are the shit!

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