Essential New Music: Jackie Shane’s “Any Other Way”

Racism and homophobia suck, but it took balls to face them both in mid-20th-century America. Two words out of Jackie Shane’s mouth and you know she had nuts galore. Born and raised in Nashville, she rocked feminine attire from kindergarten age forward. During the ’60s, she became a regional R&B phenomenon in Toronto, then left the music business forever in 1971. This double-disc retrospective includes an illustrated, 82-page hardcover book that tells her story, all six of her singles and an expanded version of her sole LP, a live album that captures her ferocious charisma and impassioned, gravelly voice on familiar R&B hits like “Money,” “High Heel Sneakers” and “Shotgun.” Her live bands were solid, but the highlights are her extended raps, which deliver a message of radical self-love with fabulous braggadocio and church-rooted chops. The studio tracks are swell, but it’s Shane’s last single, “New Way Of Loving,” that reaches across half a century with sock-it-to-me fervor.

—Bill Meyer