Ever listened to any of those live albums Elvis put out in the ’70s? They’re not bad. Oh sure, there’s the occasional unfortunate “contemporary” cover — “Never Been To Spain”, “Your Mama Don’t Dance”, “If You Love Me (Let Me Know)”…YUCK! — and the otherwise crack TCB Band, tight though they are, tends to rush through the vintage material a bit (let’s face it, rockabilly ain’t exactly in-the-pocket shit the way, say, Memphis soul is). Still, any fan lucky enough to have seen him live, even at so late a juncture, oughta dig those albums for what they are: not substitutes for his incendiary ’50s or smoldering ’60s material so much as souvenirs of a special night shared between audience and performer. Besides, Elvis sings his ass off and sneaks in The Word without making too many people gag, and the between-song patter is priceless.
So, checked out this new live Wanda Jackson album yet? It’s not bad. Oh sure, there’s the obligatory unfortunate “contemporary” cover (Oh no! It’s “Old Time Rock & Roll”!!! Wanda, sweetheart, we know why you added it to your set, and it’s a sweet gesture, but, well…you know how when you look out at your audience these days and see nothing but us punks, slackers, post-feminists, misfits, losers, and other assorted malcontents? Well, our embracing of your music, your look, your style, your attitude — it’s not just our “instinctive good taste” at work, it’s a knee-jerk reaction! A political decision! An absolute, total rejection of the Tom Cruise Culture we’ve had forced on us over the last twenty years! We tried to tell Kubrick, but we were too late and he died. We listen to you for relief and refuge, and the last thing we want to envision when listening to your glorious voice is that smug, wanky dumbass dancin’ around his living room in his underwear and ray-bans to Bob Seger! AAAARGH! Please disassociate yourself from this wretched image — for the good of humanity! — and excise this song from your set as soon as you find a suitable replacement. How ’bout Chuck Berry’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Music”? It basically makes the same statement, but in a much more clever, concise, and untainted way. Or what about “Drugstore Rock ‘n’ Roll”? Sounded great when you did it with Rosie a few years back. Heck, even “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” would be okay; we like Joan Jett!)…now where was I?
Ah yes — and the otherwise crack New York Party Timers are maybe a little too tight in spots (let’s face it, rockabilly ain’t exactly in-the-pocket blah, blah, blah). Still, any fan lucky enough to have seen Wanda recently oughta dig this album for what it is: not a substitute for her incendiary ’50s or smoldering ’60s material so much as a souvenir of a special night shared between audience and performer. Besides, Wanda’s signature helium growl is intact, she sneaks in The Word via a Hank Williams cover (there ya go, Wanda — us cranks love Hank!), and the between-song patter is priceless.
Also, gotta give the ol’ gal bonus points for recording at a cool rock ‘n’ roll club in NYC. It may not be Mr. Lucky’s, but it shore beats Branson by a country mile.