Everything is Terrible
2017-10-12 09:35:00-04:00 in mus

This is as good an album to start with as any

Wanda Jackson dropped this album during a crazy month, May 1960. The Soviets had just shot down Gary Francis Powers and re-established diplomatic relations with revolutionary Cuba. The FDA approved the pill. Maiman energized the first laser. Buzo Mingawa, the archetypal holdout Japanese soldier on an island, was found and repatriated. The Fantasticks opened at Sullivan Street. And 890 AM WLS in Chicago became the first major radio station to go to an all rock'n'roll format, opening with the Hollywood Argyles' Alley-Oop. Against this backdrop, Wanda dropped her country roots and was immediately the queen of rockabilly.

The first thing I notice as a listener in 2017 is "holy shit these tracks are short": 18 tracks, ranging from 1:46 to 2:38, which I take to mean that they were still hoping to fit them on a 10-inch 78. The tracks have that "this is a standard" feel that Patsy Cline's did around the same time. But Jackson's voice had a youth and naivete to it that Cline never had. From her first nearly-hoarse shout in Rock Your Baby, she brings a sense of teen music to the album. Did You Miss Me? might be a country standard, except that she doesn't bring the quiet strength that a country singer would, sounding instead like a high school girl trying to confront her boyfriend. Similarly, Honey Bop's chorus has a breathyness that is definitely sexual but somehow not erotic, like when teenagers try to make out in a car.