Review: Wanda Jackson – Let’s Have a Party: The Very Best of Wanda Jackson (Varese Sarabande, 2011)
With Wanda Jackson’s profile raised by her new Jack White-produced album, The Party Ain’t Over, Varese Sarabande offers up sixteen sides from her key years on Capitol. The set opens with 1956’s “I Gotta Know,” storms through rockabilly classics “Fujiyama Mama,” “Mean Mean Man,” “Rock Your Baby,” and “Let’s Have a Party,” adds incendiary takes on The Robins’ “Riot in Cell Block #9,” Little Richard’s “Rip it Up” and Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lot of Shakin’ Goin’ On,” and fills out the picture with a few of Jackson’s country ballads, including two Top 10 hits, “Right or Wrong” and “In the Middle of a Heartache.” It’s a quick look at a catalog that is deeper on both sides – rockabilly and country – than could fit into sixteen tracks. More specific collections can be found in Ace’s Queen of Rockabilly and The Very Best of the Country Years, and Bear Family’s monumental Right or Wrong and Tears Will Be the Chaser for Your Wine. Fans might also want to pick up Capitol reissues of Jackson’s original albums, but for a quick introduction to her musical brilliance, this is a good bet. Tracks 1-7 and 9 are mono, the rest stereo.