Record Review - 1 November 18 2004

In a market flooded with tribute albums varying in quality from terrible to tremendous, Bloodshot Records manages to hit the higher end of the scale with a fairly well-balanced tribute to the first lady of rockabilly, Wanda Jackson. Called "The Female Elvis" in the early part of her unique career, Jackson's body of work epitomizes the high energy and underlying sensuality of rockabilly.

Pulled together by author Holly George-Warren, Hard-Headed Woman is comprised of 21 tracks that cover the broad spectrum of Jackson's repertoire, with most of the performances coming from some of the sharpest alt-country acts working today. Carolyn Mark offers a dead-on "Hot Dog," a growling hard rockabilly cut from Jackson's early years. Jane Baxter Miller lovingly delivers the gospel-tinged country standard "One Day At A Time."

Robbie Fulks' "Tears at the Grand Ol' Opry" is pure honky-tonk, while Candye Kane channels Jackson's blues roots in "Rock Your Baby." Another highlight occurs when Atlanta native Kelly Hogan lays a sultry smackdown on the torchy "Right Or Wrong."

But not everything works. Trailer Bride's somnambulistic interpretation of the formerly bombastic "Fujiyama Mama" is pure torture, and Laura Cantrell, with her overly light and sweet voice, barely carries "Wasted" to its conclusion. Nevertheless, for the most part, Hard-Headed Woman does what it set out to do — pay tribute to one of the pioneers of American music who continues to entertain people today.

-- James Kelly
Kelly Hogan and Some Pardners play the EARL Fri., Nov. 19, 6-8:30 p.m. $7. Hubcap City (from Belgium) opens. The show is a benefit for the family of the late Todd Butler.