Wanda Jackson: 'The Party Ain't Over'

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Wanda Jackson

The Party Ain’t Over (Nonesuch)

Anyone lucky enough to catch the septuagenarian Jackson’s raucous set at 90 Proof in the Old City last year will attest that the self-proclaimed Queen of Rockabilly can yip and growl like she did back when rock ’n’ roll was new. Although she sold more records as a country balladeer, and had a later, longer career in gospel, her early rock sides are what subsequent generations of fans have rediscovered again and again. One of those fans is Jack White, who produced this enjoyable and unsurprisingly rollicking showcase album. You can’t quite call it a comeback, since Jackson, now 73, has never stopped singing and touring. But it might direct yet more neophytes to late ’50s/early ’60s classics like “Let’s Have a Party” and “Fujiyama Mama,” and in any case is a blast in its own right.

White’s blaring garage-rock arrangements suit Jackson better than they did Loretta Lynn on his conceptually similar but less satisfying album with her (2004’s Van Lear Rose). The song selection ranges from obvious (“Rip It Up”) to less so (Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good”), and Jackson is by turns persuasively sexy (“Teach Me Tonight”), pious (“Dust on the Bible”), and playful (the Andrews Sisters’ “Rum and Coca-Cola”). The liner notes say that Bob Dylan himself recommended his “Thunder on the Mountain” to her, and it was a good call from one senior citizen to another. Jackson easily inhabits the sly, wizened lyrics: “I did all I could, I did it right there and then,” she sings, and she’s right. She can still do it, too.

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