The Party Ain’t Over by Wanda Jackson
After cementing her legend as a groundbreaking rockabilly artist in the 1950s, Wanda Jackson recorded straight-ahead country, and, as a born-again Christian, took up gospel music in the 1970s. Still, the 73-year-old gets maximum mileage from being a rock ’n’ rollin’ grandma who can still tear it up, as she proves on her collaboration with rock musician Jack White (who produced Loretta Lynn’s 2004 album, Van Lear Rose).
While White successfully extended Loretta’s natural sound into something new and noteworthy, that job is harder with Wanda, due to the variety of styles she’s performed. White’s mad-scientist studio treatments and kitchen-sink song list—with jazz and calypso numbers cluttering an already eclectic rock-and-country mixture—are attention-getting but not always flattering or appropriate (such as the sexually charged “You Know That I’m No Good”).
Younger listeners will get the most out of this sometimes-inspired, retro-leaning smorgasbord; the more observant among them may even discern that Wanda’s “bad girl” ’50s persona, unlike today’s blunt and blush-worthy equivalent, is nothing more than an act.