Wanda Jackson: The Party Ain't Over

(Third Man / Nonesuch)


That Jack White – doesn't his life look fun? He's been successful with the White Stripes, the Raconteurs and the Dead Weather, and he's married to the model Karen Elson.

More than that, White's skills as a guitarist and producer have opened doors to other, no less agreeable worlds. Recording a Bond film theme with Alicia Keys? Check. Appearing in the documentary It Might Get Loud alongside Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and U2's The Edge? Check. Moreover, when the country singer Loretta Lynn made Van Lear Rose, her acclaimed 2004 comeback album, White was at the controls.

This time around, he has produced a record by another septuagenarian legend, namely Oklahoma's "First Lady of Rockabilly", Wanda Jackson, 73. The album's title clearly references Let's Have a Party, the song that Jackson recorded aged 19 after meeting Elvis Presley, soon to be her boyfriend, on a package tour of the American Deep South in 1955.

With a trademark growl in her voice – and a taste for off-the-shoulder dresses that were deemed scandalous at the time – Jackson was a feral feline, channelling girl power decades before Lady Gaga. White likes his music gnarly and Jackson's credentials are impeccable. You can see why this project appealed to him.

Pleasingly, there's nothing complicated or remotely studied about The Party Ain't Over. Those involved have simply chosen some rockabilly and country classics to cover, assembled a crack band with a horn section, and let the good times roll. Songs such as Johnny Kidd & the Pirates' Shakin' All Over and Little Richard's Rip It Up are tricky to make fresh, but with Jackson clearly relishing White's attention to period detail, all those present manage to deliver while partying like it's 1959.

There is a take on Amy Winehouse's You Know That I'm No Good, it's true, but it doesn't quite work. A 1950s star covering a song by a contemporary star influenced by the 1950s seems a bit like a dog chasing its own tail.

Better by far is Jackson's version of Bob Dylan's Thunder on the Mountain, which is ushered in with maximum drama.

Elsewhere, the album mixes playful vocals with a gorgeous muted trumpet and echo-drenched White guitars, while Harlan Howard's waltz-time hard-luck tale Busted showcases Jackson's way with story songs. Nervous Breakdown confirms that her trademark growl is intact, if somewhat careworn.

One unfavourable review of this record jibed: "Wanda, I think the party is over," but to these ears, that's way off the mark. Many songs here pack considerably more oomph than one might reasonably expect of a woman in the sixth decade of her career, and I, for one, hope this is not Jackson's last hurrah.

White and co have hatched a raw and exquisitely played backdrop that doesn't handle Jackson with kid gloves, and it places a woman whose career has sometimes been criminally overlooked back in the spotlight. One can only imagine what this record means to her.

if you go

The flights

Direct flights from the UAE to the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, are available with Air Arabia, (www.airarabia.com) Fly Dubai (www.flydubai.com) or Etihad (www.etihad.com) from Dh1,200 return including taxes. The trek described here started from Jomson, but there are many other start and end point variations depending on how you tailor your trek. To get to Jomson from Kathmandu you must first fly to the lake-side resort town of Pokhara with either Buddha Air (www.buddhaair.com) or Yeti Airlines (www.yetiairlines.com). Both charge around US$240 (Dh880) return. From Pokhara there are early morning flights to Jomson with Yeti Airlines or Simrik Airlines (www.simrikairlines.com) for around US$220 (Dh800) return. 

The trek

Restricted area permits (US$500 per person) are required for trekking in the Upper Mustang area. The challenging Meso Kanto pass between Tilcho Lake and Jomson should not be attempted by those without a lot of mountain experience and a good support team. An excellent trekking company with good knowledge of Upper Mustang, the Annaurpuna Circuit and Tilcho Lake area and who can help organise a version of the trek described here is the Nepal-UK run Snow Cat Travel (www.snowcattravel.com). Prices vary widely depending on accommodation types and the level of assistance required. 


6.30pm Maiden Dh165,000 (Dirt) 1,600m

7.05pm Conditions Dh240,000 (D) 1,600m

7.40pm Handicap Dh190,000 (D) 2,000m

8.15pm Handicap Dh170,000 (D) 2,200m

8.50pm The Entisar Listed Dh265,000 (D) 2,000m

9.25pm The Garhoud Sprint Listed Dh265,000 (D) 1,200m

10pm Handicap Dh185,000 (D) 1,400m


The National selections

6.30pm Majestic Thunder

7.05pm Commanding

7.40pm Mark Of Approval

8.15pm Mulfit

8.50pm Gronkowski

9.25pm Walking Thunder

10pm Midnight Sands


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More than eight million of the lowest income households will receive a £650 one-off payment. It will apply to households on Universal Credit, Tax Credits, Pension Credit and legacy benefits.
Separate one-off payments of £300 will go to pensioners and £150 for those receiving disability benefits.


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