I liked a few of The White Stripes' songs at school, but was never really a fan. However, since the release of Jack White's incredible second solo album Lazaretto, I was more eager than ever to hear his early stuff again, picked up 'Elephant' first, the Stripes' fourth album, and I was very impressed with what I heard.
This husband and wife alternative rock duo, consisting of Jack as the songwriter, lead singer, guitar, bass and keyboard player, and Meg on the drums and occasional vocals, were in a league of their own, and their sound is enough to make you fall in love with music all over again.
Highlights on the album include an excellent cover of Burt Bacharach's 'I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself', the addictive 'The Hardest Button to Button', and the classic 'Seven Nation Army' . If bluesy-rock music is you're bag, you'll really enjoy 'Elephant', a much acclaimed album, and probably The White Stripes' best.
Looking at the group's back catalogue, (so much so quickly !), there's been no difficulty finding wildly varying songs, tunes and themes. Elephant has a similar wide range and most of it is effortlessly good. Reviewers of the CD version are confused on what they want from the White Stripes: Live with it, I say - for this quality. Yes I did love the first and last sides of four most of all, with a bit too much "quietly reflective" for me near the middle, when the writing quality waned perhaps?. Seven Nation Army, The Hardest Button and Hypnotize will all one day be considered classics; I think they are already.
Review number 142. 'Elephant' is the duo's fourth CD, as I barely even knew about them as I got to see Jack and Meg White on this actual tour. Cuts here that I was most impressed with include the early '70's-ish "Black Math", the straight-ahead rocker "There's No Home For You Here", a Burt Bacharach song "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself", the (sort of) Zeppelin-like "In The Cold, Cold Night" and the disc's ballad "You've Got Her in Your Pocket". Plus, I also enjoyed a couple of very familiar songs - "Little Acorns" and "Hypnotize". Overall, superb garage / blues rock whose major influences are clearly Stones, Janis Joplin, Zeppelin, MC 5 and the New York Dolls. A must-have.
One would wonder how long the Jack White and Meg White "are they really brother and sister" scenario could go on. But, with the music they are making, who even really cares? Judging from the Stripes' two previous records, "White Blood Cells" and "De Stjil", it is apparant that the bands playing has evolved. They have come a long way since just being "ANOTHER GARAGE ACT" days of when their debut arrived. But, be in no illusions, this is the White Stripes at their best. If you are one of those people who has heard any of their previous three albums and wondering why all the fuss, this probably won't explain it to you. If you are expecting a radical change of style in musical direction you'll be disappointed. But, if you want more of the same but different, then you will adore this. Still refusing to use the bass instrument in their sound, Elephant does have some bassy riffs. For example, Seven Nation Army has a bass riff right? Wrong. It's Jack playing guitar with some pedal and gear effects. Now while the concept of not using bass seems stupid it actually adds to the duos appeal. Anyway, the songs all range from different things. You get the Led Zeppelin-ish tunes and you get the Queen-ish tunes. But, somehow and to the bands asset, they seem to be totally original songs. The last track on the album, "Well Its True That We Love One Another", is, oddly, a standout. It features Jack and Holly Golightly on vocals with a little of Meg added for flavour. It's a tongue-in-cheek number that with any other band you would have thought it terrible but, with the Stripes, it's amazing. That really sums up the album. I really dont need to explain all the songs to you. It's more of the same, but a lot better.