Sunday, September 18, 2011

My Amazon Reviews: Wanda Jackson "The Party Ain't Over"

Needed more ripping, less contemplation  
3 Out Of 5 Stars

Jack White is back in the respect your elders phase of his production psyche, giving 50's rockabilly Queen Wanda Jackson a spin in his Third Man stable. I was lucky enough to see Mrs. Jackson play live this year at a festival, and have to admit, wasn't expecting much. After all, the woman taking the stage is in her mid-70's, so the best I was figuring on was a jukebox experience.

Boy, was I wrong. She came on stage and burned the audience to a cinder.

Her voice might be catching up, her energy and performing skills are still at dynamo stage. Hence, went right home and picked up a copy of "The Party Ain't Over," which Wanda described from the stage as being produced by White with "a velvet brick." Like he did for Loretta Lynn's "Van Lear Rose," White surrounds Jackson with elements that would seem perfect to her past, at the same time throwing in curve-balls that throw you for a loop. Sometimes it works (her bluesed out cover of Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good," the rockabilly standard "Nervous Breakdown") and just as often, not. Why cover "Rum and Coca-Cola" at all? And while Jackson has made a latter day career singing on the country-gospel circuit, "Dust on The Bible" falls flat.

There is also the question of White's production. Jackson is a force of nature, therefore, the Phil Spector wall of sound that buries some of these songs is reverb and horns weighs "Busted" (another odd selection) and "Teach Me Tonight" down. She fares so much better on Bob Dyaln's "Thunder On The Mountain" (allegedly recommended to her straight from Dylan) because White and Wanda manage to balance each other. You get the impression that White was maybe over-thinking the album when all he really needed to do was bring in Jackson's live band and record them studio verite. Jackson may be 73 years old, but she can still rip it up.

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