Hey look it’s a new animated video for “Apple Blossom” to promote the upcoming White Stripes Greatest Hits collection. And why not?
Originally released twenty years ago on De Stijl, “Apple Blossom” is a fan favorite that was performed on all the White Stripes tours following its release. When the band made its television debut on Detroit’s “Backstage Pass” in 2000, they played “Apple Blossom” and not the album’s single, “Hello Operator.” Jack has even dusted it off for some of his solo shows.
I’m not the intended audience for a White Stripes hits comp, but I’m all for them reissuing stuff to appeal to a new generation of fans. I remember being 18 and getting some silly new Velvet Underground collection that totally opened the doors for my impending fanaticism.
So I’m never going to criticize a kid for starting with a “best of” or slam a label for issuing one.
And The White Stripes Greatest Hitstrack list looks pretty cool. At least it contains a somewhat rare b-side (“Jolene”)… Although in the streaming era can something that is already available for streaming be consider rare? Probably not. So while this collection could just as easily be built as a playlist, I’m sure a bunch of folks will pick it up on vinyl and have a great listening experience with it. Plus, I’m sure Third Man will include some trappings in the physical release that will make it fun to own. And if that drives some people to dig deeper into the catalog? Better for everybody.
Today marks the release of The Stooges Live at Goose Lake 1970, a release so unlikely it kinda boggles the mind. Not only are there very few live recordings of The Stooges, but this particular recording of this particular performance is so drenched in legend that to even suggest there was a clean documentation of it sounds like a tall tale.
I’ve been very lucky to be friends with and play in a bunch of bands with Joshua Rogers. We met in the early 90s and quickly established a musical kinship that took us through dalliances with glam, mod, garage rock, Americana and beyond. Early on we dubbed him “Gadget,” not just for his love of technology but for his impeccable timing as a drummer. It’s almost as if he were designed to be a drummer–programmed, as such.
If you knew Joshua well in those days you also knew his dad in some way. Jim Cassily loved Josh’s musical projects and loved facilitating them however he could. In addition to being a king storyteller, Jim was an inventor with a specific interest in how rhythm has residual benefits relating to motor skills, balance and lots of other stuff I don’t understand. The Interactive Metronome became a key piece of his technological legacy, something Joshua knew well as his dad would have him clap along with a metronome as part of his learning the drums.
And the stories he would tell…Our early bands spent time recording with Josh’s dad and that meant hours of exposure to the various tales he would weave throughout the process of setting up for a recording session. I was a natural skeptic in my youth and basically considered “adults” to be full of shit. Especially Boomers who took any opportunity to tell us how much better everything was in their day, so I was probably more dismissive to his storytelling than I had any right to be.
“Dad was such a legendary bullshitter that it was hard to sort of keep the stories straight,” Josh joked in a recent call where we caught up on this crazy adventure.
As a kid it was sometimes hard for Josh to discern fact from his dad’s colorful fiction. “Friends laughed at me because I told them he was a member of the Oak Ridge Boys.” This bit of fantasy was likely the result of Josh’s conflating some joke Jim may have told him about having sung with the Oak Ridge Boys and the fact that he could sing in the same register to hit the most famous part of their most famous hit, “Elvira.” When you’re a kid sometimes you miss the nuances of a joke.
There were also brushes with fame that would sometimes get jumbled up in the telling or retelling. “I thought he had dated Janis Joplin, but mom says no. He–like everyone else–thought she was scuzzy. He did work with her though, but I’m not sure to what capacity. And he did date Debbie Harry.”
“Mom jokes that he chose her over Debbie Harry. That’s what he would tell her.”
“Eventually, I started to take dad’s stories with a big hunk of salt.”
The Stooges’ performance at Goose Lake was pure rock and roll myth. It was the last show with the original line-up. Bassist Dave Alexander was summarily fired from the band by Iggy immediately after leaving the stage because he was so stoned or scared or whatever that he couldn’t play. At least, that’s how the story went.
But at what point does a story become history? Sometimes it’s just when it’s been told enough times by enough people and sometimes it’s when there’s some corroborating evidence. Such is the tale of how a box of tapes in a farmhouse basement in Michigan made its way to Nashville, via Chicago.
Directed by Brad Holland. From Dear Life, out now on Third Man.
Brendan Benson’s got a lot of cool gear in his home studio in Nashville. Which is a good thing during stay-at-home orders, right? Lots of fun toys to keep you busy.
The last time we checked in on Benson he was telling that it was good to be alive. And now he’s sharing a couple verses about people who are barely hanging on.
Some days, it comes over me
And I can barely breathe
All this fury pressing down on me
I don’t ever want to leave
It’s got me hanging on
To dear life
“There’s something about this record,” Benson says. “A friend of mine called it ‘life-affirming.’ I thought it was a joke at first but then realized, well, it’s about life and death for sure. I don’t know if that’s positive or optimistic or whatever, but that’s what’s going on with me.”
Brendan Benson - "Good To Be Alive" (Official Music Video)
Directed by Ben Chappell. From Dear Life, due April 24 on Third Man.
Fresh off the heels of the third Raconteurs album, Brendan Benson is back with his seventh solo album. The first single sounds a little less rock than his previous stuff but that’s not so bad. There’s some deliberately noticeable autotune on the vocals that’s a little disconcerting at first but it works with the synth tones of the bass and programmed drums.
The video features rollerskating and dancing with a horse. And why not?
And I’ve been searching for that hunger
That I knew when I was younger
When I was never satisfied.
Now my body’s getting older
But my brain is aging slower
And I feel young inside.
This is a sentiment that a lot of middle-aged dudes can attest to. I’m about the same age as Benson and it’s weird to be in this spot where you look in the mirror and think, Who the hell is the old guy and how’d he get into my bathroom? Getting old sucks balls, no doubt about it, but as Benson suggests in the chorus, it’s certainly better than the alternative.
Brendan Benson writes his own “Tuesday’s Gone” while he and his fellow Raconteurs visit the House On The Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin, which looks a lot cooler than Uranus, Missouri. Last spring we took a family road trip on what’s left of Route 66 from Chicago to the Grand Canyon and I had purchased a little guidebook to make sure we didn’t miss out on any of the cool stuff along the way. One of the spots was a place called Uranus, which had a fudge shop, and since one of my travel companions was a 12 year old boy, I figured we had to stop at least to get a “I love Uranus” t-shirt. They claimed, after all, that the best fudge comes from Uranus.
Guess what: Uranus stinks.
As soon as we got out of the car we were hit by a dank cloud of cigarette smoke. It was so disappointing. I went in thinking that there had been a town in Missouri that was called Uranus and some hilarious person decided to open a fudge shop there. Nope. There is no town named Uranus. The closest town is St. Robert. It’s just a tourist attraction that a former strip club operator started in 2002. That’s way less funny than doing it in a historical place with an unfortunate name. And it certainly doesn’t belong in a “things to do along Route 66” book. It was just gross. The idea that somebody developed a whole fake town just so his employees would have to greet their customers with “Thanks for picking Uranus!” is a little creepy.
I enjoy scatological humor as much as the next guy, even if the next guy is 12, but Uranus is a poorly executed shithole. Maybe that’s part of the joke. If so, that’s some next level meta action.
The House On The Rock, on the other hand, looks amazing.
Lillie Mae - “You’ve Got Other Girls for That” (Official Video)
Directed by Misael Arriaga. From Other Girls, due August 16 on Third Man.
Nashville’s Lillie Mae is a back with a new album on Third Man Records, produced by Dave Cobb, the guy who got the Oak Ridge Boys to cover “Seven Nation Army.” (He also produced the last three Jason Isbell albums and has won multiple GRAMMYs but what’s cooler than working with the Oak Ridge Boys?)
The video for “You’ve Got Other Girls for That” is a little creepy with Lillie Mae coming on to an extremely unresponsive lover.
I ain’t your first choice
Maybe once upon a time
When I was living
With delusions in mind
She told Rolling Stone, “It’s basically a true story. It’s just about somebody that was in my life that had other girls.”
Not cool, dudes. You gotta treat people with with respect!
A funky little groove with Jack and Brendan singing harmonies throughout, “Help Me Stranger” is gonna be lit live. Shades of all the genres that made Detroit a hothouse for any variety musical pollinators in the late 60s and early 70s.
The video is more of the symbolism of life in a broken land we’ve seen of late. Whether it’s Jack holden a baby in what appears to be an abandoned Asian city or images of that baby then smoldering in Jack’s arms, things are not well.
I am a big fan of Jack White’s, more so his approach to the music business even than much of the music he makes. He’s an aesthete, which makes for great branding, but sometimes needs to be challenged by other influences. My favorite examples of his work are when he partners with somebody else. Someone like Loretta Lynn. Or Brendan Benson.
The Racanonteurs are by far my favorite Jack White joint, mainly because he has a foil in the pop sensibilities of Brendan Benson and the backing of one of my favorite rhythm sections in Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler of The Greenhornes (my second favorite Third Man Records act).
But Jack’s been a busy boy and it’s been more than a decade since we last heard from The Raconteurs. They’re back now, with Benson confirming some tour dates via Twitter, and a couple of killer new videos.
2019 is going to be an exciting year of touring with The Racs!
“Sunday Driver” is a great example of the successful smashing of sounds that make The Raconteurs so good. The intro sounds like a Greenhornes’ jammer with a garage-psyche break under Benson’s melody. Success in a most unlikely way!
“Now That You’re Gone” is my favorite of the two though. A simmering break up songs accompanied by a super hot video of lust and destruction. Oh yes.
A new album is due later this year and I cannot fucking wait.
Directed by Kimberly Stuckwisch. From All American Made, out now on Third Man Records.
This is a powerful song. Consumerism disguised as patriotism and the twisted reality of the source of many of our problems.
I have been all over but I can’t help feeling stuck
Something in my bloodline or something in my gut
Says go to California in a rusted pickup truck
That’s all American made
Price said, “We actually wrote that song during the Obama administration, but it really altered meaning for me on the day Trump was elected. That song embodies the good and the bad in the ugly in this country. America is so beautiful to me, but it’s in a really hard spot right now. I feel like I was one of the first and only country artists to speak out so openly against Trump, and I had a lot of people tell me I shouldn’t be giving my opinion, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s not a lot of doubt about the difference between right and wrong.”
We all know Jack White is from Detroit. It’s an elemental part of his whole persona and that city’s musical past is a crucial element to influencing his music. That influence has largely focused on a sliver of Detroit’s musical heritage: the screaming power of garage rock and proto-punk. Yes, The Stooges and The MC5 loom large in White’s record collection.
What’s always amazed me though is the fact that Iggy and Sonic Smith and the Asheton brothers and Rob Tyner were bellying up to the same bars and scuffing up the same stages as George Clinton and Fuzzy Haskins and Eddie Hazel around the same time. Detroit’s racial strife in the streets of the late 60s and early 70s is much better documented than what was going on inside The Grande Ballroom, and that’s too bad. Imagine what it was like to see such a diverse set of musical influencers emerging at the same time from different directions? Here we have the prime ingredients of Punk and Hip Hop percolating in the midwest as the politics of unrest were driving everyone mad. And did I mention Motown or Bob Seger?
And so it’s great to hear Jack White tapping into some of the funkier influences in “The Corporation.” I don’t claim to know what is going on in this video beyond White acknowledging that he has multiple facets to his personality, and that extends to his music. I hope he settles into this character for a bit and gets the kids to dance.