Wanda Jackson presented a quandary for Capitol Records when she started recording for them in the 1950s. Even though she was not even old enough to drive, she could sing honky-tonk country as well as any "girl singer" out there, including Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline. But she could also rock as well as the male singers could, including Elvis Presley. They really didn't know what to do with her. And that is the reason that we get the wild and wonderful collection that is The Best of the Classic Capitol Singles.
The first song on the CD is the strangest and illustrates perfectly Capitol's dilemma. "I Gotta Know" is a weird hybrid of rock and country, with a go-go-stop style that is unique. There is no way this song should work, and the listener's first reaction will probably be stunned disbelief. But it grows on you.
What Capitol did for a long time was to put a rock song on the A-side of a single, and a country song on the B-side. So you would flip over a single like "Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad" and get a song like "Silver Threads and Golden Needles." That particular pairing was one of the few where the country song was definitely the stronger.
While many of the country songs were not particularly memorable, Jackson also does a great job on "Right or Wrong" and "In the Middle of a Heartache," which are still country music standards.
The rockers here definitely are the most consistant and one of them is, in this reviewer's opinion, the best rockabilly song ever recorded. "Let's Have a Party" is a rave-up of a song, still guaranteed to get you "movin' and a groovin'."