The debt that pretty well every female rock singer post-1956 owes to Wanda Jackson is incalculable. Though she recorded numerous country hits over the course of her career, her lasting impact is as the first woman to make a name for herself singing in a forceful, aggressive style on her popular rockabilly records. The spoken word introduction Jackson provides to I Remember Elvis, then, suggests that at least part of the debt owed to Jackson is shared with Elvis. Signed to Sun Records and just in her late teens, Jackson played a series of shows with Presley, whose star was on the rise at the time and who convinced her to try her hand at singing rockabilly. The two remained close for years and even dated for a while, and Jackson recorded I Remember Elvis as a tribute to a friend who was instrumental in her development into an all-time great. Covering 13 songs from Elvis’s early years at Sun, including “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Blue Moon Of Kentucky,” and “Love Me Tender,” and one new offering, “I Wore Elvis’ Ring,” I Remember Elvis finds Jackson in trademark, fiery form. The rockabilly arrangements given to these instantly recognizable songs don’t make for a huge departure from Elvis’s originals, but they allow Jackson ample room to demonstrate her inimitable sense of phrasing and her from-the-gut delivery, neither of which has diminished much since her ribald “Let’s Have A Party” hit the top 40 back in 1960. Even when singing songs made famous by the King of Rock n’ Roll, Wanda Jackson still remains the undisputed Queen of Rockabilly, and I Remember Elvis has enough of a gimmick that it should introduce her to a new generation of fans.
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