The Party Ain't Over

Wanda Jackson

Nonesuch, 2011

REVIEW BY: Mark Millan


Wanda Jackson (The Queen Of Rockabilly) has enjoyed a very long and for the most part very successful career since the ‘50s.  Discovered by Hank Thompson while she was still a teenager, Jackson quickly became an overnight success after her recordings with The Brazos Valley Boys became hits.  By the dawn of the ‘60s, Wanda was one of America’s most loved female reformers. Although her roots are firmly in the rockabilly era, she was also a fan of country music and scored many country hits as well as some fine pop songs once the swinging ‘60s caught fire stateside. 

So this year at the urging of Jack White, Jackson was coerced back into the studio to record a new album that would see her covering some of her all time favorite songs.  White had worked a small miracle in giving Loretta Lynne a new sound and a Grammy award by producing and recording her seminal my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Van Lear Rose album (from 2004), and I’m sure that was his intention here. Although this album was very well received by critics and her peers and fans upon its release, for me it just lacks something that it should have, but I just can’t articulate what that elusive “something” is. 

Jackson’s iconic voice still packs a punch, but at times here (like on “Rip It Up”), it sounds like she took a massive hit of helium before stepping into the booth.  “Shakin’ All Over” is so heavy on the reverb that it completely kills any chance of enjoying it.  White certainly has unleashed his full bag of tricks to keep this thing as retro sounding as possible, but “at what cost?” I say.  Not all of these songs are as old as the lady herself, though; there are some contemporary ones thrown into the mix that again fail to ignite my fire, save for a couple. 

Bob Dylan’s “Thunder On The Mountain” from his highly overrated Modern Times album just gets a shuffle run-through that could have been so much more.  And on the late Amy Whinehouse’s “You Know That I’m No Good,” Jackson’s voice is so lost in the mix in parts (her pitch here not helping either) that its hard to decipher anything she’s singing.  Much better though are the rousing “Busted” and the superb version of “Rum And Coca-Cola,” which both sound exactly like this whole album should have sounded all the way through.  “Nervous Breakdown” adds some punch and “Dust On The Bible” is a nice more traditional country song recalling Jackson’s glory days.

My favorite track here is the romantic “Teach Me Tonight” which sounds as timeless as a ‘50s classic should, and for once White didn’t do too much with his arrangement here and even dropped a fine solo into the mix.  But really, the bad, overcooked elements of this album unfortunately outweigh the good stuff to be found here. If anything, The Party Ain’t Over proves that Jackson still has some fire in her belly and I wouldn’t mind hearing more from her in the future.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


I heard this version of "Shakin' All Over" while leaving the Theatre after seeing "Bridesmaids", I walked back in, took a seat and waited to see who sang this, I figured it was some Punk Band, the re-verb is a little heavy, but it's still a great track ... and Jack plays possibly his greatest guitar solo ever! The rest of the album is OK ... I give it a B-

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