“Jack White is the coolest, weirdest, savviest rock star of our time” said Josh Eells of the New York Times back in April and I can’t argue with him. Being a huge fan of White’s first foray into music with the band The White Stripes, I was giddy like a young schoolboy when news broke of Jack White releasing a proper solo album. Let’s take a minute to speak about The White Stripes, the groundbreaking male/female duo with Jack on guitar and vocals and Meg White on drums. The group put out six albums in their career, with songs such as “Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground”, “Fell In Love With A Girl”, “Seven Nation Army”, “Blue Orchid”, “Icky Thump” and the list goes on and on. With just two instruments the band had such a raw, primal sound that cut through the glossy, overproduced music that was and still is being put out. The low-fi approach combined with the energy of blues, punk and garage rock in their live shows, made the band iconic and has elevated them to high class in the history books of rock and roll.
While still in The White Stripes, White formed another band called The Raconteurs, who had hits with their albums Broken Boy Soldier and Consolers of the Lonely. He then went on to form another band called The Dead Weather, with Alison Mosshart of The Kills on vocals and White on drums. They too released two albums, Horehound and Sea of Cowards. All the while The White Stripes were still an active band, until sadly in 2011 they officially announced that they were ending the band. In the meantime, Jack White was living every musicians dream, he was building his own record label and storefront entitled, Third Man Records. As a kid I often dreamed of working in a record store, having access to all that music, being able to find out about the newest records before everyone else. White is actually making new records exclusively for his label, recording bands playing live in his store such as The Dead Weather, Jerry Lee Lewis, White Denim and more. He’s also inviting musicians to record a few songs at his studio that he releases and he carries his entire back catalog oh, and every release is available on vinyl, only. Third Man’s slogan is “Your turntable’s not dead” and White is planning a full on resurrection, just take a look at the impressive list of albums they’ve pressed so far (Third Man Records).
And to add to the aforementioned list of accomplishments, White found the time to record and release his first solo album, Blunderbuss. The record is a combination of all the sounds and eras that Jack White has contributed to his influences. Whether it’s the hard hitting punk of “Sixteen Saltines”,the soulful groove of “Love Interruption”, his love of country/folk on “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy” or his blues roots on “I’m Shakin”. The album lends it’s success to the musicians that White has employed. Calling on fellow collaborators from The Raconteurs as well as other well known studio musicians, it’s interesting to finally hear what White has done with the sonic possibilities of a full band. And he’s still employing his love of vintage recording methods, recording to tape and then transferring it to digital for mp3 distribution.
For his live performances White has two bands, an all female group called The Peacocks and an all male one called The Buzzards, with it being a toss up as to which one your going to see that night. Based from live reviews of his shows, there has been a fair mix of all of Jack White’s material, with sets heavily featuring White Stripes songs and cuts from both The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather. Randall Roberts of The LA Times in his review of White’s performance at The Mayan said, “These once sparse [White Stripes] songs….were offered up thick and beefy…allowing for instrumental meanderings”. While I am saddened that I never got the chance to see The White Stripes perform, I am thrilled at the thought of seeing Jack White in stretch out mode with a full band, beginning yet another chapter in his musical anthology.
Jack White comes to Boston at the Agganis Arena on Sept. 28th. Grab your seats here and be sure to catch this modern day legend.