Jack White is the new Rick Rubin

Wanda Jackson and some boy named ElvisIt used to be Rick Rubin. Music geeks across the world would play the party game “Who would you like to see Rick Rubin produce?” After the Johnny Cash revival, it seemed the bearded guru could do no wrong. That, of course, was bullshit even at the time. Immediately after the success of the first American Recordings album, Rubin attempted to recreate the magic with Donovan on Sutras. And failed.

Since Cash’s death in 2003, Rubin has attempted “comeback” albums with Weezer, Metallica, and, um…Linkin Park. Mixed results would be putting it mildly. His two albums with Neil Diamond (2005’s 12 Songs and 2008’s Home Before Dark) have come the closest to the spark that was lit with Johnny Cash.

Meanwhile, a new kid on the block took the torch and ran with it. Loretta Lynn‘s 2004 album Van Lear Rose proved that there was more to Jack White‘s production abilities than Detroit garage rock. And now it looks like he’ll be producing rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson.


Jackson described white as “One of the biggest stars on the planet I guess right now” but differentiated her upcoming project from the work White did on Van Lear Rose:

“They had a super album, but he didn’t have her do anything different, you know,” Jackson said. “She just did her little Loretta Lynn songs. But he told me he’s gonna stretch me some, so we’ll see. We’ll talk later.”

This could be good. We’ll see. If it turns out, Rick Rubin will be yesterday’s news. The new party game is “Who would you like to see Jack White produce?” Answer: Bob Fuckin’ Seger.

Video: Wanda Jackson – “Rock Your Baby” (Town Hall Party, 1958)

WANDA JACKSON "Rock Your Baby"

That was fifty-one years ago. Just sayin’.

Previously: Wanda Jackson – Live & Still Kickin’ (2003).

Wanda Jackson: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki.

13 thoughts on “Jack White is the new Rick Rubin”

  1. This is great! Made my day. Love Jack. Van Lear Rose is one of my faves, he really “got” Loretta musically. I disagree w/the record not bringing out anything different in Loretta, Porland, Oregon is not typical! I wish it had gotten more airplay. Anyway, I adore Wanda. Fujiyama Mama. Can’t wait to see out it turns out. And agree w/him producing Seger.

  2. This brings us back to Sab’s original comment about Jack White producing Seger, and Jake’s notation about how Rod Stewart was once both credible and good. Isn’t is possible that sometimes performers just no longer have it, regardless of what magic is performed in the studio, on the mixing board? Perhaps Seger has arrived at the point where he can do little else than release his back catalog and that Stewart can continue to croon on “Dancing with the Stars.” Regrettably, not everything improves with age, and not everything can be brought back no matter how talented White is.

  3. First off, this is great news. Secondly, Wanda Jackson was quite a catch back then, and looks damn good today. Elvis should have snagged that kitty kat and not let go; we may have had a few more classic Elvis albums as a result of their pairing too.

    I think a decent producer is one who can stand up in the studio and tell the artist-regardless of how big they are-when the material ain’t working. Then, the producer can take the bull by the horns and find the musicians and songs needed to make it work or walk away from the project. They can also do the same thing is the artist’s ego prevents them from salvaging anything. I think everyone here knows that Rod Stewart, Bob Seger, or whoever, simply needs to get into a studio with some shit hot players, decent material (covers or originals) and a microphone to start the magic. If they have ego problems-or in the case of Stewart, seem to focus on the financial rewards from such a project, then fuck ’em.

  4. As far removed as I am from Rubin’s Kool-Aid-gulping followers–who may not be aware that the bearded one is rarely, if ever, in the studio w/most of the acts he produces; has very little, if any, technical know-how; and that his idea of producing is to sit at home listening to rough mixes and giving the kind of sugestions that any educated, non-producer/engineer, music fan could offer–at least the man tackles projects that are quite diverse.

    No knock on White, but Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson are way closer to each other–and his own music–than Johnny Cash is to Weezer is to Metallica is to Donovan, etc.

    Also, let’s wait til he produces more than one artist/album before we get all crazy with the comparisons.

  5. he has already produced more than 15 artists/albums, check his production credits on his wiki page. But if you mean working with veterans like lynn & jackson, well then that’s a different story. I’d rather see him record a full blues album with Cee-Lo, produce a Metallica record, or do something with Danzig who has lost some of his blues influences lately.

  6. Yeah, fvn, I’m aware of his credits. I was referring to working with vets. I meant to clarify that.

    As for producing in general, there are many types. And ever since I learned about Rubin’s style of producing I’ve become increasingly wary about giving anyone in that role props they might not have earned. There are plenty of name guys whose production acumen does not extend too far past “You rushed the bridge; do it a bit slower” or “You sang off key in the first line of the chorus” after which the much vaunted producer goes back to reading USA Today.

    What I’d like to know is:

    Does someone who might be currently lacking in sales/credibility/relevance rise to the occasion when a hip, young producer mans their project? Or does the producer bring something that had been lacking in the artist’s work?

    If it’s the latter or both, cool. If it’s just the former then somebody’s getting too much credit for doing little more than showing up.

    (Not ragging on White, btw. Just wondering in general.)

  7. Update: Jack tells MTV it’s in the can:

    “I just finished recording with Wanda Jackson in Nashville. It was just supposed to be a seven-inch [single], but we did a lot more songs, so maybe it will be something bigger,” White said. “There was a lot of good stuff. It’s a wild record.”

  8. As for the producer-artist dynamic, sometimes it just doesn’t work, for whatever reason.

    Nigel Godrich was recommended by none other than George Martin himself, and Paul McCartney’s children–who are presumably fans of NG’s work–yet that collaboration was a bit of a disappointment, despite the Grammy nominations and the accolades in the press. (And I’m a fan of both of the principals in this example.)

    Hopefully White had better luck with Ms. Jackson.

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