Wanda Jackson

Live at Town Hall Party

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Recorded at Wanda Jackson's performance on the Southern California television show Town Hall Party on November 29, 1958, this six-track, 10" EP isn't the greatest fidelity-wise. For that reason, purists might prefer to watch the performances of four of these songs on the Bear Family various-artists DVD of clips from that day's actual program. If you're forgiving of the sonic imperfection, this is still a pretty nifty souvenir from the heyday of one of the great rockabilly singers of the 1950s -- and it's not as if you have a lot of, if any, other such vintage live Jackson recordings to choose from. Backed by a house band (led by the great guitarist Joe Maphis), Wanda's perhaps a little more country-oriented than some might expect on these numbers, especially considering the backup group includes steel guitar and fiddle. Still, she does rock out hard on "Mean, Mean Man" and "Hard Headed Woman," even if Cliff Crofford's trumpet makes for an unwelcome addition to the arrangements. While not as raucous, the covers of the country hits "Pick Me Up on Your Way Down" and "Alone with You" are done with feisty honky tonk energy, and the Harlan Howard-penned B-side "Queen for a Day" serves as a reminder that she did record much straight country even in her early days.