THE BLANCO SESSIONS
Maybe the most remarkable thing about “The Blanco Sessions” is the possibility that it might never have been released. It’s the final album by Janis Martin, a pioneering female rock ’n’ roll artist who first emerged in the mid-1950s, right around the time Wanda Jackson was becoming a star.
When Martin died of lung cancer in 2007, not long after she finished recording the album in Blanco, Texas, its future was in limbo. Rosie Flores, who co-produced it with her old friend Bobby Trimble, partly funded it with a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $16,500. It took until this year to find a home on a label, Northampton’s Cow Island Music.
For “The Blanco Sessions,” Flores and Trimble came up with 11 songs that were well-suited to Martin’s husky howl. From rockabilly (“Wham Bam Jam”) and country (“Sweet Dreams”) to boogie-woogie (“It’ll Be Me”) and more contemporary fare (a revelatory take on Dave Alvin’s “Long White Cadillac”), Martin sounds alive and hungry on these recordings.
(To get a sense of just how sensational Martin was in her ’50s prime, check out Bear Family’s “The Female Elvis” compilation, a title that refers to Martin’s nickname.)
“The Blanco Sessions” should have been Martin’s celebrated comeback record. Instead, it ended up being a graceful but potent swan song for a woman who never got her due.