Wanda Jackson Review by T.G.
From Tom Graves – Rock & Roll Disc August, 1990
Wanda Jackson – Rockin’ in the Country
The problem with Wanda Jackson is her conviction, or more precisely her lack of it. She was a died-in-the-wool country weeper until she met up with Elvis Presley on his early tours and he convinced her that the rockabilly road was the one paved in gold. Crass commercialization marks all of Wanda Jackson’s recorded output – she didn’t fart without first checking to see where the breeze would blow it. She admits as much herself to Rich Kienzle in the liner notes to this CD when says, “I was always searchin’ for ‘my’ sound, which I never really got. I did too many different styles of songs.”
Elvis’s phenomenal success had every hillbilly singer who could hiccup jumping on the rock and roll gravy train – to little success I might add. But Wanda Jackson’s helium-and-gravel voice on songs like “Fujiyama Mama” was phony and a farce. One listen to her later country hits such as “Right or Wrong” (her best song) should convince anyone that her heart and soul belonged exclusively to country.
Even the backing on her rockabilly sides is limp and anemic, with the exception of Ralph Mooney’s inspired steel guitar scratchin’ on “Honey Bop” (a dumb play on the “Bunny Hop” craze).
After reading Nick Tosches’s wacky praise for Wanda Jackson several years ago (he called her the greatest “menstruating rocker” who ever lived) I had to check out this rockabilly femme fatale for myself. At first I was completely suckered in by the novelty of this ballsy curvaceous bombshell. It was friend and critic John Floyd who convinced me that Wanda Jackson was essentially a fraud as a rockabilly artist.
While my enjoyment of Wanda Jackson isn’t diminished that much (she is fun to listen to, no question) one can’t argue with the bald truth. Listening to this CD today I think I know how a guy must feel when he discovers his old lady has been faking it. It ain’t ever the same again.