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Old 06-20-2007, 05:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The White Stripes - The White Stripes (1999, Sympathy For the Record Industry)




Tracklist
1. Jimmy The Exploder
2. Stop Breaking Down
3. The Big Three Killed My Baby
4. Suzy Lee
5. Sugar Never Tasted So Good
6. Wasting My Time
7. Cannon
8. Astro
9. Broken Bricks
10. When I Hear My Name
11. Do
12. Screwdriver
13. One More Cup Of Coffee
14. Little People
15. Slicker Drips
16. St. James Infirmary Blues
17. I Fought Piranhas


Review
The White Stripes are not your typical garage band. To be honest Ive never really felt comfortable with the idea that the Stripes are garage rockers because as far as Im concerned their vision has always been too eccentric for the narrow confines of that particular genre.

Just take the first track on this album for instance. "Jimmy the Exploder" is simply the sound of 2 people experimenting with their music and having lot of fun doing so. This isnt John Cage territory or anything like that but its certainly a very unconventional song from a supposedly garage band. The powerful, distinct guitar riff that drives the song is more Jimmy Page than it is the Sonics and a combination of instrumental breaks, tempo changes and altering moods show that the Stripes have a distinctive approach to a style of music thats not usually thought of as being very daring.

The pounding, stomping cover of Robert Johnson's blues standard "Stop Breakin' Down" is an album highlight. As with all of the tracks on this album its completely dependent on the interplay between the guitar and drums. The way that drummer Meg White leaves space in the verses for singer/guitarist Jack White's vocals and comes crashing in on the choruses is what her simple drumming style is all about. Like Maureen Tucker before her she seems to have an instinctive feel for what to play and when and though she may not be accomplished her feel for the music makes the songs more dynamic than if was she the classic all over the kit hardrock drummer. On top of all that you've got Jack's searing slide playing and the way he spits out the chorus line. He's one of the great modern day bluesmen as far as Im concerned.

Despite its reputation as the Stripes most rocking album, The White Stripes isnt simply banging drums and hard riffs from beginning to end. The often overlooked "Suzy Lee" alternates some gentle slide playing with a louder section, yet again displaying a daring and grasp of dynamics thats simply beyond many garage bands. The acoustic track "Sugar Never Tasted So Good" gives way to one of my favourite White Stripes songs, "Wasting My Time." Musically its one of the highlights of the album by some distance and has some of his finest early lyrics, displaying a poetic sense that he has never abandoned. The languid tempo of "Do" is the sound of a band taking their time. Its a beautiful, bluesy track and another highlight of the record.

In addition to all of this musical tenderness The White Stripes contains several of the bands hardest rock songs. The way that Jack tears into the riff of "Srewdriver" is jawdroppingly aggressive to say the least but also extremely melodic and catchy, the song gradually speeding up untill Jack rips into the riff for the final blowout . The same can be said of "Broken Bricks", another personal favourite. In terms of a pure garage rockout they didnt come up with anything to match it untill "Black Math."

Rarely have I heard a musician who seems so confident and comfortable on their instrument as Jack White is on the guitar. Most of the songs feature a live guitar track and no overdubbing and theres no sense at all of Jack struggling with those demands. The way he seamlessly goes from riff to riff to riff on songs like "When I Hear My Name" sounds completely natural and theres not a lot of duff notes and missed chords. He's amazingly accomplished too. He isnt playing 10 minute guitar solos or anything like that but his main talent is song construction and putting together riffs in an order that sounds completely natural. Its an alternative kind of virtuosity.

As with any album that has so many songs on it, its inevitable that there will be a few lesser songs included. These come near the end of the album in the form of "Little People" and "Slicker Drips." Neither really has the mastery of dyanmics that most of the other songs on the album do and arent as memorable for it. "Slicker Drips" is little more than a very tough riff and the song doesnt seem as worked on as most of the others.

The White Stripes is the sound of the White Stripes at their least eccentric. On future albums they would experiment with everything from Broadway and cabaret to old tymey music. Because of all of these experiments when you put all of their records together its a weird little back catalogue and totally unique, theyre kind of like the American equivalent of England's the Bonzo Dog Band. All of this would have to wait though, making their debut a relatively straightforward record. Its funny saying that really because its a highly experimental and playful one considering the fact its always refferred to as a garage rock album. Its not. Its too unique.
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Old 06-25-2007, 02:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Great album, but De Stijl will always be my favourite. The new record is decent.
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Old 02-09-2009, 10:35 AM   #3 (permalink)
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The Big Three Killed My Baby is so badass.
I got the single because I liked it so much.
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Old 02-10-2009, 09:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It's a fantastic album. The White Stripes are the reason I got into music in the first place.
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Old 02-10-2009, 09:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Excellent album, was very important in opening me up to a lot of other bands, older bands. I miss the old Stripes
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Old 02-11-2009, 03:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacklovezhimself View Post
The Big Three Killed My Baby is so badass.
I got the single because I liked it so much.
So did I!! I LOVE that track! Great review; this CD is in my car right now in fact. I think the stripes are just so awesome. Girl drummers RULE :-) They remind me of if the Carpenters ever did a bunch of mind-expanding drugs and went grunge on us.
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Old 02-11-2009, 04:04 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jacklovezhimself View Post
The Big Three Killed My Baby is so badass.
I got the single because I liked it so much.
Yeah I think so too.
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