Tuesday, April 18, 2006


don't mess with an Okie rock & roll goddess

Glenn Barber, Shadow My Baby.
Wanda Jackson, Hot Dog! That Made Him Mad.

Paranoia strikes: Glenn Barber is going to hire a private detective to follow his girl around. She's running wild, wearing new red shoes, spending his money on who knows what--even some of her awful family have shown up wearing new clothes. He can't even trust his friend, who seems too familiar with his house and has Barber's dog eating out of his hand. He's one step away from madness.

And Wanda Jackson's reply: go stew in it, creep!

Barber, born in 1935, started as a country musician until he began pushing up the beat and playing rougher and harder--he was one of the legion of unknown rockers who built the music's foundation. "Ice Water," from '55, was a great example of hillbilly bop, but "Shadow My Baby," released the next summer, is something else--echo-drenched, frantic, bizarre, in which the guitar and saxophone blur to become one knife of sound.

"Shadow" is a gift from the Reverend Frost, so tell him thanks next time you visit. Released in the summer of '56 as Starday 249 b/w "Feeling No Pain." As far as I can tell, the only place to get "Shadow My Baby" on CD is on a compilation called Rockabilly Shakeout, which you can find as a UK import.

Wanda Jackson, of course, was the queen of rock & roll in the 1950s. Like Barber, she started out pure country--born in Oklahoma in 1937, she was performing duets with Hank Thompson by the early 1950s. But when she toured with Elvis in 1955 and dated him, he convinced her that rock & roll was the future. "Hot Dog!", a rocking primer on how to drive your irritating boyfriend crazy with jealousy, was one of her first tracks in this vein, and one of her finest--recorded on September 20, 1956, it was released as Capitol 3575 in November, and also wound up on the great album Rockin' With Wanda--find it on Vintage Collections. Soon to come would be the almighty "Fujiyama Mama", in which Wanda likens herself to the A-bomb.

Wanda Jackson is burning up the stage today--check out her tour dates and CDs.

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