Tag Archives: the White Stripes

New Feature: B-Side History: The Alternate History of a Band.

The B-Side. In the scope of rock history, and depending upon who you ask, it’s either merely a filler to occupy the backside of a superior A-side, or track that complements and augments how great a single is as an entity to itself. And in the rare case of, say, the Beatles, a B-side can be just as popular and defining for a band as “Strawberry Fields Forever” backed with the B-side (and equally popular radio hit) “Penny Lane.” But what is most frustrating about the B-side is that A) acknowledging that the B-side even exists to most casual listeners is that the very phrase has been relegated to the crossword puzzles of the world, and B) these songs represent a kind of effort in songwriting that is equitable, and yet, oftentimes, overlooked and forgotten thanks to overwhelming popularity of an A-side that, more likely than not, far more catchy to a general audience.

But consider what happens when an audience forgets about the B-side, and an artist takes advantage of such a generalization. And in an instance of optimism, they release a song that is far more intimate, more true to the artists’ perspective, and less a show of their power and ability to conceptualize and edit their way to an A-side. And while some A-sides and singles can be as random and confusing as any other song ever released (consider David Lowery’s blog on Camper Van Beethoven’s wild success on “Take the Skinheads Bowling,” hosted on his ‘300 Songs’ blog that, unfortunately, is currently ‘unpublished’ for some reason or another), it doesn’t change the quality that most B-sides tend to have being something far more intense and personal and devoid of the qualities that make A-sides hits.

These are the songs that matter more to the superfans out there. The collectors, the geeks, the freaks, and off-beats. These are the songs that we search for, hopelessly, on every bar jukebox, sometimes successful and sometimes in futility (if you want to know a place where you can hear “Pinball Wizard” backed with “Dogs,” and you happen to be in Ithaca, NY, e-mail me), sometimes to incredible success. And even though I plan for this feature to stray to simply highlight forgotten singles in general, I stand by this promise: every band has a secret history, and it’s my mission to shine a light upon it as worthy of your regular musical diet.

With that in mind, let’s kick this off with a double shot of the White Stripes, and take a listen to an intense love song and a an angry split sider on pinball: “Red Bowling Ball Ruth” and “Hand Springs.”

After the jump: exactly what I said we were going to talk about.

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The White Stripes Cover “House of the Rising Sun.”


Typical to White Stripes fashion, they somehow make the bluesy song even seem more desperate and mired in evil than any other version. It’s the magic they had together as a group, really.

Album Review: Jack White – Blunderbuss

Admitting that he’s never wanted to go it alone, Jack White’s solo debut, Blunderbuss, offers something that many people familiar with the band/group product only get with separate solo work, and that is a sharpened focus on the ‘essence’ of that player’s talents. But, as with many of the things that Jack White has attached his name to, it comes within rules and boundaries, and ultimately ends up with listeners asking more questions than coming to conclusions. Those factors, which are ultimately diversions from the actual product itself and have little to nothing to do with the artist’s work so much as it works as a marketing strategy, will not be discussed here. Shame, because his previous work and decisions, being so fascinating in terms of questioning motives, intentions, and truths, surround every little thing about the album. If there was never a desire to go solo, why bother compiling these efforts? Why tour in support of it? Why name it Blunderbuss? Is it more like the White Stripes? The Go? The Raconteurs? Dead Weather?

All of that doesn’t matter, though the title does invite that kind of speculation in terms of meaning – in the same way the phrase Get Behind Me Satan invites the same guesswork – and some of those questions can be answered without doubt. What does matter is that Mr. White is back, and sharing his unique talents once again.

Whether or not it’s any good, well, that takes a jump into it. Continue reading

Review: The Black Keys – “El Camino”

Jesus, it's like it's like they had a 'Complete Idiot's Guide to Hipster Appeal' on their night stand.

The Black Keys’ seventh album warrants quite a bit of reflection on their career, and not just in the fact that this band has existed for all of ten years now and have released as many albums as they have, but how they’ve grown in this environment. Most notably, the Black Keys now have one more album on their oft-compared blues-punk, garage rock contemporaries, the White Stripes, who have broken up and left on a note of high concept art. The Black Keys, meanwhile, have stayed steadfast in their ways of producing records chock full of rough-edged juke and blues that is so traditionalist (even among the distortion and feedback), that even the keep-it-simple style the Stripes have become synonymous with looks complicated. But, much like the Stripes, they couldn’t go on making the same records forever, and upon achieving major label status (and releasing the terrific and ambitious, but still traditional, Magic Potion), they decided to make a giant leap forward and drop the true blues style for a poppier, yet somehow hazier sound, and pick up Danger Mouse as producer for Potion‘s follow up, Attack and Release. And with a bigger sound and a few trophies under their belt (and, yes, like Jack White, a move to Tennessee), the Black Keys embark on the follow up to their wildly successful album, Brothers.

And it’s from there that we tell the rest of our story (after the jump).

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White Stripes Release “New” Material Since Break-Up.

The White Stripes have released two cover songs they recorded sometime in their past to platinum-level members of the Third Man Records’ “Vault” subscription service. NPR’s All Songs Considered blog dates the recordings around 1997. The first is a cover of Otis Reddings’ “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” and the second is Love’s “Signed D.C.”. Welp, here they are! Enjoy!:

White Stripes Call it Quits. Officially. Done, Over. The Band is No More. They are an Ex-Band. They Have Ceased to Be.

The White Stripes (1997-2011).


This image is the last of the White Stripes that we’ll ever see together.

This image, and an official message from Jack and Meg are at the front page of The White Stripes’ official site. Citing that it is not a conflict of artistic vision, or for wanting to continue, but for a “myriad of reasons,” that the band has decided to split, and to ‘preserve what is special about the band, and have it stay that way.’

There will no longer be any new material, or live performances from the White Stripes; however, rarities and live recordings of the band will continue to be released through the Third Man Records Vault subscription service.

The letter ends with this: “The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want. The beauty of art and music is that it can last forever if people want it to. Thank you for sharing this experience. Your involvement will never be lost on us and we are truly grateful.”

If anyone is going to bother analyzing this, you could point to just how exhausting the last tour was for the band, or that Jack White continues to spiral further and further out into other projects, or that Meg White has recently started a family of her own. Or, with that final message of wishing to ‘preserve the band,’ it could be argued that, as Jack’s most intimate project, it is increasingly frustrating to deal with it as a commodity. His hatred for reselling rare music and items from the band has been well documented. But nevermind that.

I think we should do precisely as they say and skip mourning the end of a band, and just come to expect new and bigger things in the future. Hopefully, it means new projects from Meg just as we know Jack will always be in the spotlight.

Whatever the case, this is an opportunity for all of us to grow as fans of the White Stripes, and of Meg and Jack specifically.

(*Sigh* now I’ll never see them live. . .)

Record Store Day: The Aftermath.

I usually look into my wallet, and stand outside the record stores and say “just one, on sale.” Then a day like Saturday comes along, and next thing you know, you’re in the hole a thousand, covered in shrink wrap, and waking up somewhere between G and M in the Jazz section.

So here’s what I got — after the jump (and all from the Sound Fix, by the way).

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