by John Tarpley
Rick Rubin earned his applause over the last decade by dusting off and resurrecting Johnny Cash (and, to a lesser extent, Neil Diamond). And lately, Jack White, another sonic eccentric, has tried to recreate a little Rubin-esque magic, finding potential muses in the ladies of his own record collection. In 2004, he created unlikely chemistry with Loretta Lynn on "Vanlear Rose," a modern classic by anyone's estimation. Now he's resuscitated another member of music royalty, the Queen of Rockabilly herself, Wanda Jackson, with her return to national attention in this year's "The Party Ain't Over."
The album tries (and — spoiler alert — succeeds in) reframing the taboo-breaking trailblazer for the 2010s. Fortunately, with Jack White behind the board, 2011 sounds a lot like 1959, plus or minus a few welcomed, blaring horn sections from the Mark Ronson playbook. (Speaking of, Wild Wanda sounds outstanding on the album's cover of Amy Winehouse's "You Know That I'm No Good.") Amazingly, Jackson still sounds better than a dance-hall full of her imitators; those hiccup-style vocals are needed now more than ever and her signature purr/growl can still make a young man slobber.
Regardless, here's your chance to see a literal living legend (and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer) back at the top of her game. Also, it's probably the only time this year you'll see youngster knuckleheads and the blue hair brigade shimmy together. Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs, the British garage rockers and Rockabilly disciples, open the night with their first Little Rock show in a year.
Check it out: "Riot in Cell Block #9" (live at Third Man)