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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Wanda Jackson

Tonight @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino Stage & Pavilion, Sumemrfest, 10 p.m.

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Wanda Jackson is 73 years old and still sounds like a wild kid, thanks in part to producer Jack White, who gives her rockabilly sound a 21st century punch on her latest album, The Party Ain't Over. The unusually compelling blend of brassy urban blues and country in overdrive includes songs by Johnny Kidd (“Shakin' All Over”), Bob Dylan (“Thunder On The Mountain”), Amy Winehouse (“You Know I'm No Good”), Jimmie Rodgers (“Blue Yodel #6”). The collection maintains a consistently precarious and quirky unity—one that never loses its Salvation Army band gone mad uniqueness. Jackson was a rockabilly pioneer in the 1950s. Had times been different, she could have been as popular as Elvis Presley with a whooping delivery that chased her country music roots into the danger zone. Today Bob Dylan rightfully calls her “An atomic bomb in lipstick—The Queen of Rockabilly.” Although she often shared concert bills with Presley, a Capital recording executive told her, “Girls don't sell records.” It was an idiotic comment on the surface, since women had been selling records in the blues era of the 1920s and the swing era that followed, but during the rock'n'roll upheaval of the'50s, girls like Jackson and fellow rockabilllies Janis Martin and Brenda Lee were at the margins. Jackson scored one Top-40 hit with “Let's Have A Party” in 1960 and with this album's feisty, brawling production, the party's still on. (Martin Jack Rosenblum, David Luhrssen)