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The White Stripes – Elephant (2003)

June 3, 2013

[Album 190/1001]

Thank you Zoolander:


“Sting would be another person who’s a hero. The music he’s created over the years, I don’t really listen to it, but the fact that he’s making it, I respect that.”

Though it’s a ridiculous quote, replace Sting with Jack White and that’s just about my feelings exactly.

As Elephant celebrates its 10th anniversary, I’m seeing it through that lens.

10 years ago, as a student with illusions of rock stardom, I couldn’t understand the hype.  “It’s so basic, There’s nothing special about it, The drums…” were my typical flabbergasted reactions to the enormous popularity of the group.

I’m finally appreciating the significance/appeal of The White Stripes:

– The early 2000s were far from a musical golden era.  The White Stripes helped usher in a ‘back to basics’ garage rock movement, a refreshing change of pace.
– There was nothing special about the songs and that’s why they resonated (and continue to do so) with such huge audiences.  Rhythm guitar + Drums.  It worked and it works!
– Poor Meg White was likely the Ringo of her generation.  In both cases, the minimalist (if somewhat clumpy) style is effective.  She’s not Keith Moon and that’s OK.

Seven Nation Army is unequivocally one of the best singles of the 21st century.  There are certainly other highlights on Elephant but track-for-track, its follow-up Get Behind Me Satan is the stronger record.

Jack White is something else: a multi-instrumentalist, he experiments with different genres & production techniques, and has played with just about every ensemble possible.  His commitment to making music is inspiring & his work has likely encouraged countless people to pick up an instrument and play along.

Nothing but respect for that.

From → 2000s

  1. Nice write-up. I think I feel exactly the same way about them as you do. I do have to give you a friendly reprimand for insulting Ringo. He’s no Bonham or Moon, but he’s a great drummer in his own right…and the perfect drummer for The Beatles. His playing isn’t as simple as it seems. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this post…and nice segue from your Zoolander reference.

    • haha – no insult intended, I’m a Ringo enthusiast! His idiosyncrasies are absolutely perfect.

      I always enjoy playing with drummers who pay attention to his details when covering songs (such as the pronounced snare in Rocky Raccoon after ‘he drew first and shot’).

      I think every generation has a drummer whose efforts are under-appreciated. The frenetic drummers are great, but absolutely, couldn’t picture anyone else drumming for those Liverpudlians!

  2. I agree with all. However, I think The White Stripes, like all punk bands, T-Rex and most new-wave bands, are vastly overrated.

    Ringo is both the most famous drummer in the world and one of the most underrated. He isn’t flashy, but he is good, and better than most drummers.

    Someone wrote a book about all the Beatles’ recording sessions. During their whole career, they had to “take it from the top” only twice due to Ringo goofing up, but many times due to goofs on the part of the others.

    By the way, I saw Rush last night. The song selection wasn’t what I would have selected—an emphasis on the overproduced synthesizer stuff—but at least one doesn’t get the same set list every tour. However, most of Clockwork Angels, which is certainly better than anything Jack White will ever do or has ever done, was included as well.

    Peart even smiled once.

    What other groups gives you three(!) drum solos in a three-hour (including 30-minute intermission) concert? What other groups give you even one?

    They also had a 7-piece string ensemble for the second set (Clockwork Angels stuff and some old favourites).

    The professional critics will probably never get them.

    • I think that’s often the case with groups credited with starting a genre, they receive a lot more praise than perhaps the songs/records merit. I hadn’t released Ringo was so reliably accurate in the studio. I’ve only seen Rush live once, but what a show. And what a sound from a trio!

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