Black Music Matters Festival

Wanda Jackson

I Remember Elvis – 2006 (Goldenlane)

Reviewed by Ken Burke

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CDs by Wanda Jackson

This 14-song set with two spoken tracks paying tribute to the late Elvis Presley, is probably the CD Wanda Jackson's fans have been waiting to hear. Produced by crack guitarist Danny B. Harvey, it features spare, yet full arrangements that allow the Oklahoma-born rockabilly pioneer to put her unique stamp on some of the genre's best-known tunes.

Eschewing her trademark growl, Jackson sounds surprisingly bluesy slinking through such Sun Records-era staples as "Good Rockin' Tonight," "Trying to Get to You," "Baby Let's Play House," and the pleasingly countrified "I Forgot to Remember to Forget." Delving into Presley's early RCA catalog, Jackson sounds so erotic during "Ain't That Lovin' You Baby," and "Too Much" that one tends to forget that the rocker is a 68-year-old grandmother.

Harvey's biting guitar rides occasionally ape Scotty Moore's seminal work with Presley, and writhes with shades of modern swing. There exists a moment or two where the singer seems short of breath, and a ham-handed pianist doesn't do "Heartbreak Hotel" any favors. However, the disc is worth buying if only to hear Jackson sing the catchy new ditty "I Wore Elvis's Ring," and talk about her brief romance with the young Elvis Presley.