[Illustration by KING MERINUK/CLICK TO ENLARGE]
Upon first listen to The Party Ain’t Over, the Jack White-produced comeback/victory lap by feral-rockabilly-kitten-turned-Born-Again-gospel-pensioner Wanda Jackson, it is tempting to agree with the prevailing CW that White made a fatal strategic error when he opted not to follow the Rick Rubin/Johnny Cash paradigm of less-is-more when it comes to polishing the legacies of Medicare-aged hellraisers. The Third Man Band — which includes White and various Dead Weather/Raconteurs alums — that backs Jackson on Party, is loud and hammy and takes up most of the oxygen on the record. The song choices range from the obvious (“Rip It Up”, “Nervous Breakdown”) to the incomprehensible (the treacly cover of the Andrew Sisters’ “Rum And Coke” is, like most children, better seen than heard) to the unnecessary (the paint-by-numbers cover of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good”). But when Jackson opens her mouth to sing it becomes readily apparent that all these years later there is still a riot goin on in there, and most if not all is forgiven. Even at the ripe old age of 73, Jackson’s gasoline-gargling growl still sounds as strong as an atom bomb and it is worth noting here that it contains multitudes — without it, there would be no Joan Jett, no Riot Grrl, no Live Through This, no Karen O. Still, the most powerful track on Party is a stripped-naked reading of Jimmy Rodger’s “Blue Yodel #6” wherein Jackson croons yet another dudes-done-the-ladies-wrong imprecation backed by just an acoustic guitar and a tambourine and it feels like the first time you saw a full moon. –– JONATHAN VALANIA
Wanda Jackson plays World Cafe Live Tuesday February 22nd with the Lustre Kings and Delco Nightingales
WIN TICKETS: We have a pair of tickets for Wanda Jackson at World Cafe Live for the first Phawker reader to email us at email@example.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question: Who convinced Wanda Jackson to ditch country & western for rock n’ roll? Good luck and godspeed.