Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Wanda Jackson

  • Rockin' in the Country: The Best of Wanda Jackson [Rhino, 1990] A-
  • Heart Trouble [CMH, 2003]
  • The Party Ain't Over [Nonesuch/Third Man, 2011] **

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Rockin' in the Country: The Best of Wanda Jackson [Rhino, 1990]
Although she wasn't quite Nick Tosches' "greatest menstruating rock 'n' roll singer the world has ever known"--check the Chantels, or the redundant originals and unoriginal covers on Wanda's Charly 32-track--she did leave more than nine hormonal epiphanies. Why no "Who Shot Sam," no "I Gotta Know," no (pthhh, wah, neeny-neeny-ni) "Tongue Tied"? To give country purists their due, I guess: her evolution through rockaballads toward the spunky c&w morality of "My Big Iron Skillet" and "A Girl Don't Have To Drink To Have Fun" is archetypal. And her Betty Hutton rip makes "You Don't Own Me" sound stingy. Hot dog, she made him mad. A-

Heart Trouble [CMH, 2003]
The first studio album in decades by the 65-year-old rockabilly pioneer comes astutely produced by roots specialist John Wooler and shored up by a small host of well-wishers: Elvis Costello, Dave Alvin, Rosie Flores, and the Cramps, who lend welcome oomph to her oldie "Funnel of Love." DCN's recent The Wanda Jackson Show: Live and Still Kickin' offers proof aplenty that she remains likable, lively, and spunky. Oomph, however, is in short supply here. The material is choice, the voice full and healthy. But where unsung rocker Jackson was nearly feral and country chanteuse Jackson was soulful enough, here the only song that sounds felt rather than performed is "Walk With Me," about her personal savior the Lord Jesus Christ. [Blender: 2]

The Party Ain't Over [Nonesuch/Third Man, 2011]
Jack White hits the geriatric Christian hottie with songs and horns that remind us what a weirdo she must be ("Thunder on the Mountain," "Shakin' All Over") **

See Also