Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Wanda Jackson Covers The White Stripes' 'In the Cold, Cold Night' [Fresh Track]

Posted By on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 5:04 PM

  • Joshua Black Wilkins/Rolling Stone
Since his early days, Jack White has been paying tribute to the blues, R&B and rockabilly artists whose styles he melded and turned into a cultural phenomenon. As his career progressed, he's made his admiration about as explicit as you can get through the Document Reissues series, as well as the bit in It Might Get Loud about his favorite song. On Nov. 19, Cleopatra Records will drop a compilation called Rockin' Legends Pay Tribute to Jack White, on which both classic and contemporary performers who inspired White put their own spin on his original tunes. Today, Rolling Stone premiered the opening track, which features Wanda Jackson doing The White Stripes' "In the Cold, Cold Night" with help from Shooter Jennings.

"In the Cold, Cold Night" stands out in the Stripes' catalog not only because of the unusual Meg White vocal, but also because of the spare accompaniment and unsettling, ambiguous sentiment — is it a come-on directed at a stalker, or an expression of a love that has to remain secret because it's socially unacceptable, and it sounds menacing because the singer is resentful? There's no shortage of covers, including an up-tempo, retro-electro version that English songstress Tracey Thorn put on her Christmas album last year. Wanda and Shooter's take is a little closer to the original's determined creepiness, replacing the slinky guitar with a piano and adding in some subtly industrial brass and percussion accents, spooky detuned vocal doubling and some sweet, fat organ licks.

The other 13 tracks cover the Stripes, The Raconteurs and White's solo work, with contributors spanning from early R&B and rockabilly pros like Gary U.S. Bonds and Johnny Powers to contemporary luminaries like Los Straitjackets and J.D. Wilkes and The Dirt Daubers. One especially eyebrow-raising contribution is R&B sax hero Big Jay McNeely and Hawkwind sax man Nik Turner performing "I'm Shakin'" as featured on Blunderbuss (side note: this is actually a Little Willie John cover itself; John also did the original "Fever," coincidentally a pretty strong influence on "Cold, Cold Night").

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