Wanda Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame during 2009 as an early influence. I feel she should have been inducted in the Performer Category. Whatever the circumstance, the honor was long overdue for one of the early women of rock ‘n’ roll who is still going strong after over 50 years.
Wanda Jackson was signed to the Capitol label during 1956 and in the years that followed became known as the queen or first lady of rockabilly, which led to her eventual induction into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. She toured regularly with Elvis Presley, 1955-1956, and even dated him for a short time.
Her best known song was “Let’s Have A Party,” on which she was backed by Gene Vincent’s Blue Caps. It is a blast of up-tempo energy and a nice introduction to the rockabilly style of music. It was a top 40 single during the second half of 1960. During the mid-1960s she began releasing country material and would place dozens of recordings on the United States Country charts during the next quarter of a century.
Wanda Jackson has released over 30 studio albums during her long career. She has released albums of rock ‘n’ roll, country, rockabilly, and gospel music. At the age of 73, she has returned with a new album, The Party Ain’t Over, which cuts across several musical styles. Like a fine wine, she and her music have aged well.
Very few artists are able to cover songs by such diverse people as Bob Dylan, Little Richard, Amy Winehouse, and the Andrews Sisters all on the same release. Having said that, she may have been better served to have stuck with one style throughout the album. The individual performances are consistently excellent but the album as a whole does not hang together at times.
When I think of Wanda Jackson, I think of high energy, up-tempo rock. Little Richard’s “Rip It Up” was made for her and presents her at her best. I saw her perform “Shakin’ All Over” on Letterman, and she quickly proved that she still had it at an age when most people are quietly retired.
She travels a different route on the old Andrews Sisters tune, “Rum and Coca-Cola,” as she brings a modern interpretation to the song. Her covers of “Dust On The Bible” and “Blue Yodel #6” are also treats.
While her takes on Dylan’s “Thunder On The Mountain” and Winehouse’s “You Know That I’m No Good” are credible, they are a little outside her comfort zone. She has returned with a very good album, though, proving that she belongs in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. For Wanda Jackson, the party continues.