Q - p.1563 stars out of 5
-- "Jackson is that real rarity: a female rockabilly singer capable of packing a genuine punch."
Uncut - p.1124 stars out of 5
-- "[T]his incredible collection gathers together her lesser known country sides from the '60s..."
Some know the legendary Wanda Jackson only as either a wild rockabilly banshee or a gospel singer. Jackson was also a solid, original country singer and this collection by Ace, one of the very best assembled onto a single disc, proves the point in spades. When Jackson emerged form the rockabilly years, her country records contained more than a little of that untamable spirit that made her hits of the 1950s so essential. The recordings in this set cover the years 1958 to 1972. They say as much about Nashville as they do Jackson -- check out the prototype-psychedelic guitar solo in "Right or Wrong" from 1961. There's a ton of fuzz in the riff, and the solo itself is the progenitor of Davie Allan & the Arrows' sound. Jackson walked the line between the sophisticated phrasing of Patsy Cline (check "Slippin'") and the throaty, wilder, rawer, Rose Maddox country boogie and hillbilly sounds ("You Bug Me Bad"). There are 30 selections on this platter that run the gamut between the two poles. The bluesy hard edge in the grain of Jackson's voice would never allow her to become so mainstream as to be a national icon, and her competition was stiff: Tammy Wynette, Connie Smith, Lynn Anderson, and Loretta Lynn were just a few of country's biggest stars at the time. Jackson also never let the rock & roll completely go out of her way of singing a song, even in the real weepers like the pedal steel drenched "You'll Always Have My Love," and the string-soaked "I Cried Every Time You Hurt Me." The tunes from the later '60s with horns (akin to the Tijuana Brass) as heard in 1968's "My Baby Walked Right out on Me," gave Jackson a wider platform to let her considerable voice rip. Of course, "Fancy Satin Pillows" and "A Woman Lives for Love" are both here as well, representing Jackson's last hits for Capitol. The set ends with "Tennessee Women's Prison," a honky tonk song recorded as her last single for Capitol in 1972, and the a burning rendition of "Let's Have a Party," from a 1969 live album produced by Ken Nelson. For those who snagged the Bear Family single disc of Jackson's rockabilly material, this one from Ace is the next essential chapter in the story. ~ Thom Jurek