"Get Behind Me Satan" (V2; 2005)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

I’m not sure when The White Stripes' weirdness will wear out, but they'll probably ride this wave of odd into Obscureville. "Get Behind Me Satan" is like listening to abstract art. You’re not sure what to take out to make it sound normal but if you did remove something, wouldn't it lose the concept? After listening, you may feel like you want to add a few instruments.  

The first song, “Blue Orchid,” starts with a 1960s guitar riff and stays within the wheelbarrel route it's intended. The songs that follow drop off the cliff and faint screams of free delight can be found within each track after that. Since you never know what you’re going to get when reaching into a grab bag labeled “The White Stripes,” you really can’t be disappointed when it takes so many different turns.  

Jack White’s work on the movie "Cold Mountain" and his contribution with Loretta Lynn’s “Van Lear Rose” CD should almost prepare you for the music captured here. But being prepared for The White Stripes takes away from the band's appeal. They like being the duck who limps because, every now and then, he’ll skip and you might miss it. 

The song lyrics here are just as goofy as their previous releases. The mood slows towards the middle (even slower than the first part after “Blue Orchid”) but track number eight, “Instinct Blues,” has some Led Zeppelin nodding. 

This CD does take a back porch approach to writing. I think we’ve all become accustomed to The White Stripes balancing on a king size bed and having them use all four corners to pull material from. This CD was written in two weeks behind close doors and, depending whether or not those doors were ever opened to let in some fresh air, remains to be debated. 

The White Stripes: Meg White and Jack White.

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"Elephant" (V2; 2003)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Well, first I'd like to reiterate what R. Scott Bolton said in his review of "White Blood Cells": The White Stripes do indeed “reek of originality.” I think that’s what makes them so accessible. On one hand, they sound like kids who are just starting out on their instruments, but the music is so creative that you really just can’t help but like it. I almost want to root for them to make it big, I mean, yeah, they already have, but it’s sort of inspiring that two people can create such imaginative music and lyrics.

There are some rockers on “Elephant.” There’s also folk, country and just plain quirkiness from start to finish. I would never try to pigeonhole The White Stripes because they would probably just write a song about pigeons. Speaking of animals, they did write a song called “Little Acorns” that deals with a girl and a squirrel. I’ll just have to invite you to listen so you can add it to your list of weird songs.

Jacks fret work is very fundamental, but it’s done in such a way that almost puts it on the cutting edge front where who knows what ended up on the cutting room floor. I can hear The Beatles, Hendrix, Lenny Kravitz and more blues than punk on this release. The drumming would never win any prizes but it works so well with everything else. Meg knows when not to drum, if that helps define her style.

The White Stripes cover the song “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” which was written by Burt Bacharach. It was covered in the movie “My Best Friend's Wedding” and sung horribly by Cameron Diaz; Jack’s vocals almost mirror hers, except for the chorus.

Usually I list some songs that stand out but the whole thing stands out, I’ve listened to it about ten times and it keeps getting better and better.

The White Stripes: Meg White – drums, vocals; Jack White – vocals, guitar, piano.

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"White Blood Cells" (V2; 2001)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Jack White of the White Stripes recently told AP Radio that he doesn't know the band's secret to success: "I don't know why it works on the radio or on MTV or on a stage in front of 80,000 people," Jack said, "It seems like there should be more going on, there should be these anthems."

Jack isn't alone. I don't know why the White Stripes are so popular either.

It isn't because I think they're a lousy band. I actually admire Jack's stream-of-consciousness guitar. Each song on "White Blood Cells" sounds like Jack just picked up his guitar and picked out a tune. And Jack's voice is ... well ... interesting. He sounds like a rock star one moment, a folk singer the next and a dude at a Karaoke bar after that. The songwriting is unmatched in the originality department; like the guitar work, the songs written by the White Stripes sound as if they're fresh off the written page, not something that's been worked and polished to a commercially tolerable death.

In fact, that's the reason I'm surprised the White Stripes are so hugely popular. Because the band reeks of originality. This isn't the stuff that usually gets loads of airplay or draws people into concert halls. This is the kind of stuff that usually garners tons of critical acclaim when it's first released but doesn't garner the commercial success until year's later when everyone suddenly realizes what they were missing.

They may not be your cup of tea but you have to give the White Stripes credit. "White Blood Cells" is a fresh, raw and ripe piece of work. It's rock as art and the fact that it appeals to so many is just icing on the cake.

The White Stripes: Meg White - drums, backing vocals; Jack White - vocals, guitar, piano.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 27 May 2024 14:00:23 -0400.