She really does, and the result’s a good time for fans of them both. Presley appreciated Wanda Jackson’s talents, encouraged her to rock, and dated her for a spell. Having incorporated Elvis’ music into her vibrant live shows for years, Wanda’s finally gotten around to this disc of takes on his rockabilly songs in tribute to what he taught her.
Elvis no doubt learned some from her as well; she belted “Let’s Have A Party” better than he did. As this music inevitably takes you on a ’50s time-trip even as it crackles freshly, some moments get an extra transgressive edge in Wanda’s decidedly female hands: exhilarating exhortations to “come back baby, I want to play house with you” and to come up with more still kisses, now, since “at a time like this, who keeps score.” Sexy stuff, daddy-o.
The Los Angeles backing band (with Danny B. Harvey on guitars and Razor X on standup bass) capably reproduces the later, bigger beat used by Elvis at RCA (and Wanda at Capitol), but there’s an extra treat in hearing her with the lean Sun sound on numbers from that era. The rockabilly queen’s voice is generally remarkably well-preserved after decades of delivering her patented growl, and she rips into the likes of “Too Much” and “Heartbreak Hotel”.
Wanda’s got a new number, “I Wore Elvis’ Ring” (written by Robert Burke Warren), for the occasion, and a monologue of her Elvis memories at the end, plus liner commentary from the other Elvis, Mr. Costello.