Friday, January 21, 2011

Album Review: Wanda Jackson - The Party Ain't Over

All hail the queen of rockabilly!  The legendary Wanda Jackson enjoyed a career as one of the most popular rockabilly artists of the 1950s, and then went on to become a successful mainstream country star, eventually becoming a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Now she's back with a new album helmed by producer Jack White - the same visionary who led Loretta Lynn to Grammy glory with their 2004 project Van Lear Rose.  Their pairing brings about a creative triumph of an album in which retro meets modern, and everybody has a great time.

On this new project, Wanda takes us through a rip-roaring genre-busting set of classic covers.  Everyone from Little Richard to Jimmie Rogers to Amy Winehouse is given the Wanda Jackson rockabilly treatment.  Her energetic horn-infused versions of Little Richard's "Rip It Up" and Bob Dylan's "Thunder On the Mountain," the latter of which in particular is a spunkier-than-ever reinterpretation of the original, are a few of the album's highlights.  She gets more laid-back and sultry with her slow-burning take on "Teach Me Tonight."  She delivers an solid performance of "Shakin' All Over," but some unnecessary editing effects do weigh the track down a bit.

The only misstep on the album is her rocked-up version of the Gospel song "Dust On the Bible."  Let's face it - "Dust On the Bible" was not meant to be a party song.  On that particular track, a stripped-down arrangement would have been much more befitting, such as that found on the following track "Blue Yodel No. 6."  Thus Wanda closes out the album by getting her yodel on with a Jimmie Rogers classic.

As we would expect, Wanda's performances ooze personality, spunk, and sass, just as they always have.  While this may be a covers album, it is still unmistakably Wanda.  The musical arrangements of The Party Ain't Over turn it into a wildly fun throwback to Wanda's rockabilly glory days.  Sure, she may be 73-years old, but one listen to The Party Ain't Over will show anyone that Wanda's partying days are far from over.

(Scores are given on a scale of 1 to 10)