Sunday, 21 November 2010

"Wanda Rocks" by WANDA JACKSON. A Review Of The 2002 Bear Family CD Compilation.

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"…Start Getting' With It Baby…You’re Acting Like A Square To Me…"

Released December 2002 on Bear Family BCD 16631 AR - "Wanda Rocks" by WANDA JACKSON offers up 35 slices of Wanda's sexy Rockabilly and Rock 'n' Roll – and not surprisingly it's a peach. "Rocks" covers 1956 to 1963 on the Capitol label and at a crammed 79:58 minutes - doesn't scrimp it on content or value for money.

Like all the titles in this extensive series, "Rocks" comes in a 3-way foldout card digipak with a large detachable booklet in the centre (48-pages for this one). The CD label itself repros the 45” for "Fujiyama Mama" – a big hit for her in 1957 - complete with its Capitol Records label bag - and that's again repro’d in full on the flap beneath the see-through tray (a nice touch).

The substantial booklet features extensive liner notes from Page 5 to 26 by noted musicologist COLIN ESCOTT with a Discography for all 35 tracks from Page 35 to 42 by ROSS WAPENSKY and Bear Family’s owner RICHARD WEIZE. Photos of Wanda with admirers GENE VINCENT, ELVIS PRESLEY and Producer KEN NELSON pepper the rest of the booklet – as well as in-studio-recording snaps with Country stars MERLE HAGGARD and HANK THOMPSON (provides an Intro on Page 2). There are black and white publicity shots, trade adverts and sheet music - and all of it rounded off on the last few pages with full track-listings for two of their extensive Box Sets on her – "Right Or Wrong" (4CDs) and "Tears Will Be The Chaser For Your Wine" (8CDs). A typically top job done by Bear Family - as befits their reissue legend.

The remastered sound is by one of their best tape engineers JURGEN CRASSER. Crasser handled the stunning "Blowing The Fuse" series from 1945 to 1960 (I've reviewed all 16 volumes) and the "Sweet Soul Music" series from 1961 to 1975 (all 15 volumes reviewed too). Alive, clean and full of well-recorded Capitol Records class - the sound is wonderful.

Tracks from her big albums are featured as follows:
1. "Wanda Jackson", 1957 Mono LP on Capitol T-1041 (7, 8, 9, 10)
2. "Rockin' With Wanda", 1958 Mono LP on Capitol T-1384 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11, 12)
3. "There's A Party Goin' On", 1961 Stereo LP on Capitol ST-1511 (13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25).
4. "Right Or Wrong", 1961 Stereo LP on Capitol ST-1596 (26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31)
5. "Wonderful Wanda", 1962 Stereo LP on Capitol ST-1776 (32)
6. "Two Sides Of Wanda", 1964 Stereo LP on Capitol ST-2030 (34, 35)

The 3 remaining tracks are "Riot In Cell Block No. 9" and "Funnel Of Love" (tracks 20 and 21) that first appeared as unreleased tracks on Bear's "Right Or Wrong" 4CD box set of 1993 - while her own "You Bug Me Bad" (track 33) was a 7" single on Capitol F 4833 in 1962.

Musically – Wanda Jackson came across like a female Gene Vincent – like Elvis' mischievous little sister – and her less-than wholesome image beloved her to Rock 'n' Rollers everywhere. Not for Wanda to be standing on the porch of her mid Fifties suburban home with an apron around her bluster dress waving at hubby as he comes home from work with a pipe in his mouth – Wanda was all big hair, big chest and big lips – Wanda was in the hotel bar with the boys in the band - downing whiskeys and socking any local in the jaw who got fresh. “Cool Love” (lyrics above) give a good indication of her attitude that virtually set up a template for decades to come as to how women ‘rocked’.

Being Capitol, her band consisted of top session men - Buck Owens and Roy Clark on guitar, 'Skeets' McDonald on Bass with Merrill Moore and 'Big' Al Downing on Piano. And when she got her Country-tinged croaky voice behind great material like “Money Honey” and “Let’s Have A Party” - she made it her own. On Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally” she sings “…let’s have some fun tonight…” like she meant it. As the years moved on and styles changed, she did too (but with her trademark rockin’ vibe still in tow). The superb “Fallin’” is so early Sixties Presley, while “Tongue Tied” is great fun as well as boppin’ like the old days (and in handsome Stereo).

Like a force of nature, like life itself, just looking at a photo of the ballsy Wanda Jackson makes me smile. And this little cracker from those nice reissue people in Germany – does her legacy proud.

And it’s such good fun too...

PS: The "Rocks" Series by Bear Family features the following artists:

1. Chuck Berry [see REVIEW]
2. Pat Boone
3. Johnny Burnette [see REVIEW]
4. The Cadillacs [see REVIEW]
5. Eddie Cochran
6. Bobby Darin
7. Fats Domino
8. Connie Francis
9. Don Gibson
10. Glen Glenn
11. Bill Haley
12. Roy Hall
13. Slim Harpo [see REVIEW]
14. Dale Hawkins
15. Ronnie Hawkins
16. Screamin' Jay Hawkins [see REVIEW]
17. Wanda Jackson [see REVIEW]
18. Sonny James
19. Buddy Knox and Jimmy Bowen with the Rhythm Orchids [see REVIEW]
20. Sleepy LaBeef
21. Brenda Lee
22. Jerry Lee Lewis [see REVIEW]
23. Smiley Lewis [see REVIEW]
24. Little Richard
25. Bob Luman [see REVIEW]
26. Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers
27. Carl Mann
28. Amos Milburn [see REVIEW]
29. Ella Mae Morse [see REVIEW]
30. Ricky Nelson
31. Carl Perkins
32. Roy Orbison
33. Lloyd Price [see REVIEW]
34. Piano Red (aka Dr. Feelgood) [see REVIEW]
35. Charlie Rich [see REVIEW]
36. Jack Scott
37. Shirley and Lee
38. The Treniers
39. Big Joe Turner [see REVIEW]
40. Conway Twitty
41. Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps
42. Rusty York [see REVIEW]

The Bear Family "Rockin' Rollin'" Series features:

1. Johnny Horton
2. Marvin Rainwater
3. Marty Robbins Vol.1
4. Marty Robbins Vol.2
5. Marty Robbins Vol.3 

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