I’ve given Wanda Jackson’s new CD The Party Ain’t Over a couple of listens now and I can recommend it highly! I can’t believe how much this 73-year-old lady sounds like she did 50 years ago when she was recording her seminal rockabilly tracks. Maybe you could say that her voice is a little thinner than it was back then, but if you did I’d say you were just looking for something to complain about! She’s still full of power and life and her delivery is great.
As for the album, I do have a few nitpicks. I’m not overly knocked out by the treatment that producer Jack White gave these recordings. It’s not that the production is bad–anything but. It’s top notch for sure. And I’m grateful that White cared enough about Jackson that he gave this project his skill and expertise as well as a promotional shot in the arm that it could not have gotten without him. It’s just that I’d have treated these songs differently. Of course, that may well explain why I wasn’t asked to produce the Queen of Rockabilly!
If anything, I think this has been over produced. I would have loved to hear a more raw sound without so much instrumentation. I could do without the horn section, the heavy distortion, and the near over use of echo (if there is such a thing in rockabilly) on a couple songs. But maybe that’s the problem I’m having with it: I was hoping for a much more pared-down rockabilly experience. That’s really not fair, I suppose, given the depth of Ms. Jackson’s body of work. Still, I’m also scratching my head about a couple of the songs they decided to include here. They just don’t make much sense to me given the huge pool of great songs they had available to pull from.
But…All that said, I love this album! There’s little I’ve ever heard Wanda Jackson do that I don’t love and in that respect there is absolutely no disappointment here. It’s wonderful to hear her still belting out high-energy, no-holds-barred deliveries. I love that she still has her trademark growl–it’s even clear that she’s learned to harness it to even greater effect than she did when she was young.
Of course it goes almost without saying that the musicians and their performances are top notch. With White’s connections and reputation, you’d have expected nothing less.
So, in short, if you haven’t heard the album yet, change your expectations a little bit. It’s not a pure rockabilly classic. There’s a lot of rockabilly infused into it of course, but it’s something beyond rockabilly as far as song development and production go. I love that Wanda Jackson and other older artists are still rockin’ it out. We all grew up thinking rock’ n’ roll was just for the kids, but this proves that nothing could be further from the truth. It’s music for everyone and by everyone regardless of age. That gives me inspiration!
This is a great record and it belongs in your collection! Have you already heard it? Leave a comment and let everyone know your take on it!