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Wanda Jackson

The Party Ain't Over


Buy if you like: Carl Perkins, Johnny Burnette

Wanda Jackson finally made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Now the Queen of Rockabilly has an album that's actually her best in decades, courtesy of Jack White of the White Stripes. As he did with Loretta Lynn, White took Jackson, now 73, into his studio and turned her loose on a dozen songs, adding horns, keyboards and just the right amount of guitar to make them fresh and edgy. Jackson growls her way through Johnny Kidd & The Pirates' "Shakin' All Over," then puts some swing in Eddie Cochran's "Nervous Breakdown" and delivers a snarl-and-bite version of Little Richard's "Rip It Up." There's also a punch-and-slink take on Amy Winehouse's "You Know I'm No Good." Jackson doesn't sound quite like the teenager who toured with Elvis Presley, but she's still got a sass and style worthy of our longest reigning rock 'n roll queen. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

Tao of the Dead

Richter Scale /Superball Music

Buy if you like: Pink Floyd, Yes

Conrad Keely and company may be singlehandedly trying to revive the art rock-era of Pink Floyd, Yes, and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, complete with visuals by Keely, an accomplished fantasy illustrator. His cover's lavish, Victorian-era storybook imagery, including a weapon-wielding fox in britches, and a wide-eyed child, provides an elegant jumble, just like these songs. The first half of the album flows together like symphonic movements, with hypnotic, soft, echoey lulls swelling into frenetic, ear-bleeding cacophonies à la Smashing Pumpkins. Keely's Brit-rock influences surface often, especially on the similarly arranged, 16½-minute second half, "Strange News From Another Planet." Spacy, trippy moments, such as one particular passage that is directly modeled after Floyd's pastiches of conversational snippet, are counterbalanced by elements that recall Oasis, U2 and even Jane's Addiction. It's all rather brilliant. And, yes, it's also colorful. — Lynne Margolis

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