The White Stripes

Meg White and John Gillis are The White Stripes – a guitar player/singer songwriter and his ex-wife drummer. John Gillis is of course now better known as Jack White, and the couple are now known as brother and sister, a bizarre untruth peddled by the group for reasons that remain unclear. They lack a bass player of course, something many fans and critics have concentrated upon. Rather no bass player than a bass player playing out of step funk lines going ‘dink dink dink’ as many hard rock groups seem to employ! But then, The White Stripes weren’t a hard rock group. They are very much rooted in the alternative scene with added blues influences ala John Spencer Blues Explosion. The White Stripes wear red and white ( and black ) matching clothing and have a burning desire for recognition and fame quite unlike the scene from which they were brought. But, anyway, sex, lies and videotape out-of-the-way, what’s the album like? Well, we open with booming, very primitive primal sounding drums and guitar straight out of the Seventies. Then the whole thing explodes in distortion – the singer is barely legible in terms of words sung, but sounds on the edge, as the whole song does. It’s strangely exciting in its amateurishness, even if Jack White does sound uncannily like Robert Plant in places. Still, ‘Jimmy The Exploder’ is good, great even. I love the feel of it. ‘Stop Breaking Down’ follows and you begin quite naturally to get excited about the back to basics, loud, noisy and furious approach. ‘Suzy Lee’ is a piece of traditional blues, ‘Sugar Never Tasted So Good’ has a breezy little guitar line amid odd percussion effects. ‘Wasting My Time’ is forgettable and ‘Canon’ opens with a strangely familiar riff. The White Stripes plough familiar territory as far as melodies and writing are concerned, but the sound is SO raw, they manage to be slightly ( not greatly ) different in any case.

‘Broken Bricks’ is The White Stripes in full effect! Very silly, very primitive, but supremely exciting in a dumb kind of way. A helluva noise is created! It obliterates all thoughts from your brain and is akin to being bashed over the head with a large stout stick. None of the songs immediately following this are as interesting though, all repeat the same formula as before but with less inspiration. Reaching the close of the album,  same of the sound becomes very irritating. So, it’s all the more welcome when a cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘One More Cup Of Coffee’ arrives. It’s a great song in any case and sounds very haunted and alluring as performed here. ‘St James Infirmary Blues’ replaces the guitar with Piano, works very well. Variety! Ah, I dunno. As far as this album is concerned, you could stick it on random play or listen to a couple of songs, and be more than highly satisfied. But, as a complete album experience, it feels as if something isn’t quite there. But then it is a debut, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. At this point (1997-2000), White Stripes were just experimenting mix of Blues & Alternative Rock.


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