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Wanda Jackson

The Party Ain't Over – 2011 (Third Man)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Wanda Jackson

Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame inductee Wanda Jackson teams up with Jack White of White Stripes for a horn and guitar FX heavy set of neatly chosen cover songs. Although frequently invigorating, at times, the 73-year-old Jackson sounds dangerously close to being blown off her own album.

From the get-go, Jackson can be heard fighting - even triumphing over - the fat, brassy horn section guitar vibrato on Shakin' All Over and although the Johnny Kidd and the Pirates' version remains definitive - her erotic grandma act proves fun. More successful is her flirty rendition of Little Richard's Rip It Up. She also navigates the wordy, hard-pumping Jerry Lee referenced Thunder on the Mountain, with admirable verve.

White's mix of atmospheric big band exotica and works to good advantage on the old Andrews Sisters' hit Jamaican-tinged hit Rum and Coca-Cola. Likewise, the soul and steel reworking of Dust on the Bible, wherein the Oklahoma legend demonstrates heartfelt, sacred chops in the face of blaring horns. Jackson also brings a sly, juicy feeling to Elvis' post-army blues ditty Like a Baby. Yet, the remake of Eddie Cochran's Nervous Breakdown plainly demonstrates that a growling Jackson is all the FX you need. Further, the acoustic blues of Jimmie Rodgers's Blue Yodel #6, makes one wish that only of the album were done in this style.

Throughout, White demonstrates little feel for traditional rockabilly or country. A case in point being Harlan Howard's classic, Busted, where White's overbearing horn arrangements completely undermine both Jackson and the lyrics. The loud, soft, loud, soft nature of his heavy-handed arrangements are certain to wake up was some sleepy heads, but quickly becomes tedious. Only Jackson's own spirited sense of professionalism keeps this album consistently listenable, and that alone is reason to seek out this 11-song set.