s 1963 album Love Me Forever
, and her 1964 album Blues in My Heart
, are combined on one CD for this 24-track disc. While Jackson
would eventually come to be most widely known as an early rockabilly pioneer, these recordings date from the era in which she had turned to the country market, slightly but not heavily tilted toward the Nashville country-pop style. That might disappoint fans of her earlier gangbusters like "Fujiyama Mama," but actually, these are quite strong performances, if with barely a hint of her raunchier roots. Love Me Forever
, unusually for a popular artist of the early '60s, contained no tracks that appeared on singles. The more sedate of these pair of LPs, it sounds influenced, whether consciously or unconsciously, by the classy Nashville country-pop successes Brenda Lee
was churning out by the handful during the period, particularly in the production and arrangements. Yet Jackson
does handle the style, and the material, quite deftly, putting enough of her own stamp on the proceedings to steer them clear of accusations of a Lee
imitation. If there's any mild overall flaw, it's that the material wasn't the most adventurous, including some well-known songs like "Please Love Me Forever" (a recent hit for Cathy Jean & the Roommates, and later a hit for Bobby Vinton
), Willie Nelson'
s "Funny How Time Slips Away," and Ivory Joe Hunter'
s "Since I Met You Baby."
Better, though not all that different, is Blues in My Heart
, which has just one track that appeared on a single. A quite commercially successful LP for an album without hits, it reached the country Top Ten. Despite the title, it's not blues, R&B, or rock & roll-oriented, but it does emphasize songs with blue moods, and is a bit earthier than Love Me Forever
. Material by plenty of top writers is featured, including Chet Atkins
(who wrote "Midnight" with Boudleaux Bryant
), Hank Williams
, Don Gibson
, Willie Nelson
, and Harlan Howard
. Some of the songs, again, are on the familiar side, but these are quality classics like "Oh, Lonesome Me," "I'm so Lonesome I Could Cry," "Singin' the Blues," and the Delmore Brothers'
"Blues Stay Away from Me." Jackson'
s singing is consistently moving and pleasurable, and the CD is heartily recommended to fans of early- to mid-'60s country-pop, especially as the albums have never been available on compact disc, with the exception of their inclusion on Wanda Jackson
box sets. Though the packaging is not nearly as elaborate as it is on those box sets, the annotation is sufficiently informative and respectful.