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Wanda Jackson

Heart Trouble – 2003 (CMH)

Reviewed by Jon Johnson

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CDs by Wanda Jackson

Wanda Jackson sounds terrific - much the same as she did on her classic country and rockabilly sides of the '50s and '60s - on this album of new material and re-recordings of her classic tracks featuring the likes of Elvis Costello, Dave Alvin and members of The Cramps.

"Crying Time" finds Jackson and duet partner Costello backed by steel guitarist John McFee and drummer Pete Thomas, both of whom played on Costello's influential "Almost Blue" album more than 20 years ago. There are better country singers around than Elvis Costello, but it's always a pleasure to hear him return to the form, and this is no exception.

In addition, Dave Alvin provides some welcome guitar work on three songs (including a cover of Carl Perkins' "Rockabilly Fever), and the Cramps' Poison Ivy Rorschach provides her distinctive guitar approach to the remake of "Funnel of Love."

If a single criticism can be leveled, it's that there isn't enough punch provided by the rhythm section (upright bassist Larry Taylor and drummer Stephen Hodges, both frequent Tom Waits collaborators) for a rockabilly filly like Jackson. Taylor, in particular, seems to keep his foot on the brakes throughout the songs on which he appears; never really propelling things forward. As good as Taylor is on Waits' records, the difference between his tracks here and "Woman Walk Out the Door," where Lee Rocker sits in on bass, is like night and day. Still, "Heart Trouble" is well worth a listen, if only to marvel at Jackson's eternally young vocals.