Wanda Jackson The Party Ain’t Over Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

A rich, warm, big-hearted and hilarious album.

Andrew Mueller 2011

If this Jack White-produced album does become an inescapable worldwide hit that bestows universal acclaim upon its creator, it won’t be before time.

Oklahoma-born Jackson, now 73, is one of rock’n’roll’s genuine pathfinders – discovered by Hank Thompson, urged towards the throaty rockabilly that eventually suited her best by an early admirer named Elvis Presley, very plausibly the first woman to record a rock’n’roll single (1958’s Let’s Have a Party).

It’s not difficult to imagine what would have drawn White to this project – his appreciation of rock’n’roll mythology is acute, as is his ambition vis-ˆ-vis the place in it he’d like to occupy himself. He also clearly has a knack for sparking renewed excitement in artists who probably imagined they’d seen and heard everything. Just as he encouraged Loretta Lynn to one of the finest albums of her life, in 2004’s Van Lear Rose, he may, at this late stage, have brought the very best out of Jackson.

The band helps, of course – White, Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Wheeler of The Raconteurs, Karen Elson, Jackson Smith and Ashley Monroe, all contributing to a sumptuous, brassy stew of country and blues. The track selection is also astute, selections from a century of popular song, including Johnny Kidd & The Pirates’ Shakin’ All Over, Bob Dylan’s Thunder on the Mountain, Hank Williams’ Dust on the Bible and Amy Winehouse’s You Know I'm No Good.

None of which would matter if age had wearied Jackson’s voice, but it doesn¹t sound like age has even been trying. Her trademark kittenish snarl is in devilish form on Eddie Cochran’s Nervous Breakdown, and she's never crooned anything so affectingly as she does Sammy Cahn and Gene De Paul’s Teach Me Tonight. This is a rich, warm, big-hearted and hilarious album.

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