Monday, January 31, 2011
WANDA JACKSON: THE PARTY AIN'T OVER...
I've been talking about this album for a while, ever since I heard that the album was being produced by Jack White for his label Third Man Records.
People will probably compare this album to Loretta Lynn's classic 2004 album, Van Lear Rose, also produced by Jack, and there are some parallels. In both cases, he used his considerable starpower and cred to back a legendary woman who wasn't getting much mainstream attention. But they are very different artists: Jack felt that Loretta was one of the great, and under-appreciated, songwriters, and he used Van Lear Rose to prove it.
Wanda Jackson is totally different. When you hear her today, she still sounds radical. Like, you hear her voice, and wonder what ever gave her the idea that she could be a singer! So imagine how badass she must have sounded back in 1954 when she first hit the music scene. It was probably as abrasive and shocking as Johnny Rotten or Chuck D. She's in her 70s, and of course her voice doesn't sound quite so abrasive anymore, but still has an edge. And Jack White put together a band and found material that plays to her strengths as a singer. The songs, including Johnny Kidd & The Pirates' "Shakin' All Over," Bob Dylan's "Thunder On The Mountain," Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good" and the traditional "Dust On The Bible" work perfectly. I don't think that the album is a classic on the level of Van Lear Rose, but it is a great album, and hopefully it will get some Wanda some new fans.
I also have to mention "The Third Man Records House Band," who are great: they include Ashley Monroe, who has worked with Jack White in The Raconteurs, Olivia Jean of The Black Belles (she also played in Karen Elson's band), Rich Gilbert from Frank Black's band, and drummer Joey Waronker who plays in R.E.M., among other folks. Great band!