(Photo Credit - Pieter M. van Hattem)
Advance Review - The White Stripes: The White Stripes Greatest Hits (December 4, 2020)
It's true! It is coming -- The White Stripes Greatest Hits Album.
How do you feel? Did you just squeal in excitement? Maybe a seated victory dance? Or are you judging yourself because you just aren't as excited as expected? When I first heard this, I admit there was a mix of shock and excitement. Why shock? Well, honestly, I feel each album is just so solid. Jack White isn't afraid to venture into new territory, and I think that is why all of his work feels so genuine and new. He is so mindful in all that he does that even if the new work doesn't vibe with me, I can respect what he is doing. So, how do you take six albums of pure, solid work and pick just twenty-six tracks to define a band like The White Stripes?
I can say this -- I wouldn't want to be in their shoes, but I do think they did an excellent job. Let's delve into this, shall we?
The first album self-titled was released in 1999. Five songs made it into the greatest hits from here -- "The Big Three Killed My Baby", "Astro", "Let's Shake Hands", "Screwdriver", and "I Fought Piranhas". There are so many great hits on this album that didn't make the cut, but I do feel like these five songs are great representations of what The White Stripes are -- blues/punk mix, working-class kids from Detroit letting out some pent-up pain and frustration. The blunt chords, strong drum beats, and meaningful lyrics from all three of these songs display that.
Next in 2000, De Stijl was released. They felt the music, and man, they moved. This has been a "cult-favorite" of White Stripes fans. Songs that made the cut are "You're Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)", "Hello Operator", "Apple Blossom", and "Death Letter". A note here that "Death Letter" was written by "Son" House, one of Jack's favorite artists. The playful nature of these songs appealed to huge crowds of White Stripes fans.
In 2001, White Blood Cells hit the scene. Songs included from this album are "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground", "Hotel Yorba", "We're Going to be Friends", "Fell in Love with a Girl", and "I Think I Smell a Rat". What I love about the selection here is you have nods to the classic sound -- "Fell in Love with a Girl", but the band is also starting to branch into different sounds -- "Hotel Yorba" and "We're Going to be Friends". We also saw a huge interest from movies and commercials with these songs, pushing the band into the view of more people.
Ah...and then 2003 with the release of Elephant, we gained a powerhouse song "Seven Nation Army". How can you not feel empowered after that song? However, the band never once forgot its roots, and man, I am grateful for what would the world be like with "Ball and Biscuit". Those raw, energizing chords, powerful drum strokes. We also have "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself" and "The Hardest Button to Button".
In 2005, The White Stripes released Get Behind Me Satan. This time, they went a different route for most of the album, and both critics and fans enjoyed it! On "The Nurse", they experimented with including the marimba along with their strong drum beats and raw chords. "The Denial Twist", "Blue Orchid", and "My Doorbell" are also all included.
In 2007, The White Stripes went out with such a bang with the release of Icky Thump. This album returns to their roots, but it also has some political influence in songs like "Icky Thump". Some other songs that made the cut are: "Conquest" and "I'm Slowly Turning Into You".
An added bonus is the cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene". The White Stripes are so soulful in their interpretation, and I am pleased to see it included.
Overall, this band was producing music for less than ten years, but their impact is still seen today. Trying to pick 26 songs out of all of the great hits was a challenge, but it is awesome to see the final product.
Happy listening, y'all.