Wanda Jackson

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Heartache Review

by Thom Jurek

The issue of this 1982 set by rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson is its own revelation. Heartache was recorded in Nash Vegas with a small studio band produced by bassist Jack Jackson. Wanda took a few of Buddy Holly's signature moments from the 1950s (Norman Petty's "Rave On") and some of the greatest modern country songs from the '60s and '70s, and also re-recorded some of her self-penned tunes, to come up with a gem that sounds completely out of time and space. While Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe -- not to mention the Stray Cats -- were mining the sounds of previous decades for authentic roots music to add to their own repertoires, Jackson was reclaiming songs from a period when her star shone brightest. What is also remarkable is that this set was completed during Jackson's sacred music period, when she wasn't really doing anything secular. What it reveals -- just as her 21st century sides do -- is that she never lost a whit of her talent, and as a singer she was mightier than women half her age. Here, on classics associated with Patsy Cline and Ray Price such as "Crazy," "Walkin' After Midnight," and "I Fall to Pieces," as well as Conway Twitty's "It's Only Make Believe," Don Gibson's "Sweet Dreams," Boudleaux and Felice Bryant's "Raining in My Heart," Jack Scott's "What in the World's Come Over You," Jessie Mae Robinson's "Let's Have a Party," and her own "Right or Wrong," Jackson's performances are enough to send chills down the spine. There is nothing remotely nostalgic about this set; it is a solid country and rockabilly record from a legend still in full possession of her considerable powers.

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