Tag Archives: Jack White

Jack White in Detroit

Jack White was born in Detroit. He went to Cass Tech High School, which numbers among its alum people including Diana Ross, Alice Coltrane, Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell, and Regina Carter. Good company.

Although White moved to Nashville, once a Detroiter, always a Detroiter.

In 2001 White established Third Man Records. In Nashville.

But what may be more important is the establishment of Third Man Pressing. In Detroit.

Jack White’s company is producing LPs in Detroit. It is a 10,000-square foot factory that “officially” opened on February 25.

It is a production facility that presses hot vinyl between a set of dies into discs that has a capacity of 15,000 records a day.

Although “Detroit” is known for cars, in actuality, there are only two automotive plants in the city limits proper, the Jefferson North Plant where Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Durangos are produced, and the Conner Avenue Plant, where the Dodge Viper is manufactured. Viper production ends this year. So there may be just one car plant.

Detroit. One car plant. Imagine.

(And the company that runs that plant, FCA US, is a part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, which is owned by Fiat, which is based in Italy. That car that Eminem drove in that Chrysler commercial a few years back? It was built in Sterling Heights, Michigan, not Detroit. Close though.)

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Steamy new White Stripes video: City Lights

YouTube: The White Stripes – “City Lights”

The White Stripes — "City Lights" Official Video

From the description on YouTube:

Third Man Records is pleased to share the genius surprise gift they received from their friend MICHEL GONDRY. On his own and without anyone’s knowledge, the legendary filmmaker shot a video for “City Lights,” which he sent them the other night. The video is Gondry’s fifth visual collaboration with The White Stripes.

It’s a cool video and a good song. I’ve been a little skeptical of Jack White’s Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016 compilation. At first it seemed like a cheap cash-grab built around the discovery of one newly uncovered White Stripes outtake (“the first new, worldwide commercially released song by The White Stripes since 2008”). I mean, come on, right? Everything else on this comp has been previously released in one form or another.

Plus, even “City Lights” — which was apparently written for Get Behind Me Satan “but then forgotten until White revisited the 2005 album for Third Man’s Record Store Day 2015 vinyl reissue” — is a little dubious. White admits “the track was finished in 2016 with help from collaborator and childhood friend Dominic Davis.” Where’s Meg? How much of this recording is White Stripes and how much is solo Jack White? Were any vocals recorded back in 2005? Were lyrics even written for it at the time? (Third Man Records did not immediately respond to our query.)

But.

There’s something to be said for recontextualizing the work of an artist. And this is the first collection of Jack White’s songwriting that covers multiple bands and projects. And it presents a different angle than just “Jack White, guitar hero.” This side has been there from the get-go, for anybody paying attention and actually listening to the albums, but I can see the value in putting all the pretty stuff together in one spot. So there we have it.

And there’s more rare stuff than just “City Lights.” There’s the acoustic mix of the jingle White wrote for Coca Cola (“Love Is the Truth”) plus a handful of remixes of other songs. And one of the songs he did for that Renée Zellweger movie. So I probably shouldn’t be such a grump about it. And hey: new White Stripes song!

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I’m Down With Alan Thicke

I’ve mostly avoided the hullabaloo around Robin Thicke because I thought I didn’t care, but the truth is that it bugs the shit out of me. Not because I feel a need to defend him (but I will) or that I think he’s some amazing artist (who cares?) but because the hypocrisy of the whole thing is just obnoxious. I mean, really…are we really ready to surrender to the squares?

The basic argument against Thicke breaks down along two lines:

  1. He “stole” Marvin Gaye’s mojo for his song of the summer, “Blurred Lines”
  2. He’s a lout for carrying on with Miley Cyrus at the Video Music Awards and calling women bitches

The first is so preposterous I am amazed I even have to address it, but here it goes: Popular music always has and always will feed on itself.

Traditional folk music and bluegrass structure is built around a handful of simple patterns. Same with the blues. Same with most rock and roll, including so much of the rock canon we all adore.

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New Jack White video: Freedom At 21

Video: Jack White – “Freedom At 21”

Another cool video from Jack White’s solo debut, Blunderbuss. “Freedom At 21” was directed by Hype Williams and features the briefest of cameos by Josh Homme who was clearly born to play a cop. My favorite detail is the prison girl’s Detroit tattoo. Is that a poke at his hometown or an appreciation of it? Could go either way, but the fact that the real star of the video is the Plymouth Hemi ‘Cuda leads me to believe it’s a celebration of Motor City muscle at its finest.

As an extra bonus, here’s a live version of the song, recorded back in April.

Video: Jack White – “Freedom at 21” (live)

Live on April 27, 2012 at Webster Hall in New York City. Directed by Gary Oldman.

Jack White – Blunderbuss; Band Of Skulls – Sweet Sour

Jack WhiteBlunderbuss (Third Man/Columbia)

Band Of SkullsSweet Sour (Vagrant)

When the White Stripes quietly called it a day last year, we were in still in the glow of Jack White’s many side-projects and production credits to really allow the news to sink in.

If the idea of a Stripeless world has finally got you down, a quick scan of the college radio playlists show there are plenty of suitable facsimiles. One of the better ones, Southampton’s Band of Skulls, released their sophomore album earlier this year, Sweet Sour, a  record of consistent vintage gear blooze and bare-ass arrangements that point to an obvious indebtedness to White.

And then there’s Jack himself, foraging out into the solo abyss with Blunderbuss. Named after an old firearm, White checks to see if his aim is true when delivering a full length’s worth of music as attention grabbing as his previous explorations.

Band of Skulls seem content on building on White’s Dead Weather era, complete with a punchy power trio format and a young woman by the name of Emma Richardson to add a bit of sweetness to the crunch of their cavestomp.

Sweet Sour pines for the most basic of hooks, with frontman Russell Marsden following the always welcomed tradition of the Malcolm Young School of big riffs. Drummer Matt Hayward keeps everyone in line through the intimidating power of his four-speed rhythms, allowing Marsden’s chords to take center stage.

Like AC/DC, or even Dead Weather if you want to get down to it, Band of Skulls find the challenge is to find something lyrically worthy to make such a temper-tantrum with their guitars. After a bit of head-nodding, you begin to realize that the choruses are nothing more than clever song-titles repeated and their more somber moments sound like Marsden and Richardson’s brooding over endless loops of the acoustic guitar part of Zep’s “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.”

You have to squint to see the cracks in Sweet Sour, and I am sure it will play nice in the various movies and commercials these tracks will inevitably get licensed to. There’s just really nothing more than the competency it exudes, forgoing any attempt to challenge the blueprint and prompting Sweet Sour to wallow in the very same indecisiveness that even its title suggest.

Is it sweet? Is it sour? No, it’s something bland and of little character from a power trio who seems too concerned with their own career path than really letting their heart show. Even the mistakes this album claims to have, seem intentionally placed just to give it a bit of dusty charm and by the end of side two’s slow tempo fade, you’ve already forgotten how good some of the riffs really were on the previous side.

On the other hand, Jack White is firmly committed to making his first solo effort a stark departure from his other work, exiling the riff for big, basement arrangements with emotional openness and a willingness to try new approaches. There’s no need to amend for any certain style when there’s a clean canvas with each new song, and White is clearly using different colors than he’s done in the past.

The stupid zip-gun guitar tone makes another unwelcome return, but making up for its presence is a solid-slew of new rhythms, surprising arrangements (the female vocals to Rudy Toombs “I’m Shakin’” are wonderful) and some of White’s most personal work to date.

One of the most prominent instruments throughout the record is his use of the upright piano, which adds to the homespun feel of Blunderbuss. It also cuts down on the need for White to embellish on his previous instrument of choice and add things like pedal steels, fiddles, Hammonds, and any other vintage instrument that he’s found in Nashville’s ample pawn shops.

Each vintage tone seems to be placed in the right environment, bridging the gap between the records he’s trying to emulate and the clever ways he works to get new listeners–hopefully younger ones–to open their minds to the tones of his influences.

Blunderbuss confirms White’s place within rock’s current royalty, and it marks a clear transition from White the band member, or even band leader, for that matter. The record is intended as a subtle departure from the sounds and tones of previous commitments, setting on a new direction where arrangements are carefully considered as well as the instruments that fill in the space.

The difference between the two offerings, other than the direct link that White provides? Band of Skulls seem intent on parlaying their blooze into bankroll, looking for their place next to other garage practitioners on the echelon of notoriety.

Meanwhile, Jack White seems to be making records that will match up next to the long players in his own collection, its success measured by the records it prompts you to discover.

Video: Band Of Skulls – “Sweet Sour”

Video: Jack White – “Hypocritical Kiss” (live)

New Jack White video: Sixteen Saltines

Video: Jack White: “Sixteen Saltines”

A creepy video for Jack’s second single off his debut solo album, Blunderbuss.

And in case you missed it, here’s the first video.

Video: Jack White – “Love Interruption”

Blunderbuss is out April 24.

Hear the first single from Jack White’s solo album

Stream: Jack White – “Love Interruption”

Wurlitzer electric piano, acoustic guitar, then:

I want love to roll me over slowly, stick a knife inside me, and twist it all around. I want love to grab my fingers gently, slam them in a doorway, put my face into the ground.

And that’s how Jack White introduces his debut solo album, Blunderbuss, due April 24 on Third Man Records/XL Recordings/Columbia. Background vocals from Nashville-based, Ghana-born Ruby Amanfu add a creepy, old-timey vibe.

The lack of drums on this song is an curious choice for a lead-off single. It sounds great, but it’ll be interesting to see how well this does commercially. Will the mainstream audience who eventually embraced the White Stripes get into this? Will the rivalry with the Black Keys spawn a resurgence of listenable, commercial rock and roll? (I hope so.) Maybe the Hives and the Strokes and Mooney Suzuki can put out new albums this year and it’ll be like 2001 all over again! (Unlikely.)

You can order the single on vinyl from Third Man Records. The 7-inch includes a non-album b-side, “Machine Gun Silhouette.” If you’re impatient and don’t care about b-sides or sound quality, you can download it from iTunes right now.

YouTube: Jack White – “Love Interruption”

Wanda Jackson – Thunder on the Mountain

Wanda Jackson - The Party Ain't Over No question about it, Jack White’s got style. More than just about anyone else who’s not named Gaga, Jack White understands that an ounce of appearance is worth a pound of effort, and that’s not to say that there isn’t plenty of effort in his work. He just makes it look effortless because he looks so goddamned good doing it.

This first video from his collaboration with rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson is another in a long line of examples with a tasty Dylan cover, “Thunder on the Mountain.” Backing the tiny Jackson with a band decked out in black and pink stage wear, White dances and stomps around his muse like a lovestruck hillbilly. Much like his earlier collaboration with Loretta Lynn, White knows how to embrace the elements and style of a genre without coming off as a parody. As someone who plays a lot of shows with bands with fake accents, I can tell you that ain’t easy to do.

The Party Ain’t Over is available on pre-order from White’s Third Man Records. First 1,000 orders come in an “exclusive Third Man greeting care gatefold sleeve,” 100 of which will randomly come with fuschia colored vinyl. Don’t you just love that sort of thing?

Wanda Jackson: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, eMusic, MOG, wiki

New Karen Elson video: Pretty Babies

Video: Karen Elson – “Pretty Babies”

The latest single from her debut album, The Ghost Who Walks, out now on XL. I like this song—especially the organ—almost as much as I like Elson’s false eyelashes, but why do all the dudes in her band dress like White Stripes roadies?

Karen Elson: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

The Dead Weather – Sea Of Cowards

The Dead Weather - Sea Of CowardsThe Dead WeatherSea Of Cowards (Third Man)

It’s damn near impossible to hate Jack White. In fact, most complaints that I’ve heard or read are relatively superficial ones that have little to do with his music and more to do how his music is presented visually. White is a classicist rock musician, deeply rooted in and respectful of its past. It’s clear that he’s studied the records on his turntable intently and the footnotes of his term papers (or albums) are clearly audible.

Sea Of Cowards is the second album from the Dead Weather, a project where White finds himself behind the drum kit instead of center stage, even though the focus is squarely on his slight frame. I did a double take when I heard the band was releasing a new record as it was only last summer when they released their debut.

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