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Jack White

+ {The Raconteurs} + {The Dead Weather}

Not only the broody male half of The WHITE STRIPES (until their split in 2011), but a “Jack”-of-all-trades by way of his extracurricular activities as kingpin of The RACONTEURS, The DEAD WEATHER and his Third Man Records, the wily WHITE was also behind the 2004 comeback set (`Van Lear Rose’) of country star LORETTA LYNN. Since his breakthrough with the ‘Stripes around the turn of the millennium, the blues-punk singer/guitarist has been at the heart and sticky soul of alternative rock without becoming a fully-fledged member of the celebrity elite.
Born John Anthony Gillis, July 9, 1975, Jack began his music career by playing drums for cow-punk act GOOBER & THE PEAS. A subsequent chance meeting in 1996 with fellow drummer Meg White, led to marriage (Jack taking her surname!) and the formation of the aforementioned WHITE STRIPES; many thought at first they were brother and sister, a mystery solved when they divorced in 1999. Despite this setback, the duo continued upwards and onwards with their blues-punk mission, releasing platinum-selling sets, including peak time capsules, `White Blood Cells’ (2001), `Elephant’ (2003) and `Get Behind Me Satan’ (2005).
An indie super-group of sorts, roping in top mates, BRENDAN BENSON (co-vocals, guitar, keys), Patrick Keeler (drums) and Jack Lawrence (bass) – the latter both from The GREENHORNES – The RACONTEURS’ BROKEN BOY SOLDIERS {*6} was delivered in 2006. The most cock-rocking, ROBERT PLANT-howling welly heard since The DARKNESS last touched down, this busman’s holiday of an album couldn’t quite match the awe and cunning of the ‘Stripes. More importantly, their endlessly gratifying spin on various 60s/70s references, from The BEATLES to Bob Dorough to the SMALL FACES, sounded borne of happy coincidence rather than big-budget graft; check out `Hands’, `Blue Veins’, and the singular `Broken Boy Soldier’.
Fast forward a couple of years, the quartet jumped out for another Top 10 stab via sophomore piece, CONSOLERS OF THE LONELY (2008) {*7}. Highlighting the pop-power of `Salute Your Solution’, `Hold Up’ and a neat rendition of TERRY REID’s `Rich Kid Blues’, the dual vocal attributes of both Jack and Brendan shone above their usual star. Meanwhile, Jack the lad was invited alongside soul singer ALICIA KEYS to perform the (`Another Way To Die’) theme to the James Bond film, Quantum Of Solace; a minor hit in the States, it went Top 10 in Britain.
If one thought the Jack White story had finished there and then, two albums by another indie supergroup, The DEAD WEATHER (aka, drummer Jack, plus KILLS singer Alison Mosshart, bassist “Little Jack” Lawrence and guitarist Dean Fertita of QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE) were released at the turn of the decade. The first of these, HOREHOUND (2009) {*6}, divided compositions between each of its stars, although it was Jack’s `I Cut Like A Buffalo’ that shone out from the pack (Mosshart and Fertita’s PLASTIC ONO-esque blast `60 Feet Tall’ was its equal), while there was also a DYLAN cover in `New Pony’; the riff-tastic `Hang You From The Heavens’ and the key-stabbing `Treat Me Like Your Mother’ were of top-drawer quality.
On a par with their debut, the US Top 10 SEA OF COWARDS (2010) {*6} showed The DEAD WEATHER were no one-trick pony. Garage sludge or just brutal blues, the heavy-rock set muscled in with at least three giant tracks, `Hustle And Cuss’, `Blue Blood Blues’ and `Die By The Drop’; one of their B-sides was a cover of TUBEWAY ARMY’s `Are Friends Electric’.
As if given the “licence to (k)ill” was not enough for JACK WHITE, the man decided that it was the right time for a solo album; the Stripes had disbanded. The cross-Atlantic chart-topping BLUNDERBUSS (2012) {*7} filled in time for the rock’n’roll auteur and Third Man label boss, although one couldn’t help miss the drumming of dimple-faced Meg. Not withstanding the dull rendition of LITTLE WILLIE JOHN’s `I’m Shakin’’, the eclectic mix of rock styles came through with The WHO-like `Sixteen Saltines’, the drum’n’bass-rock of `Freedom At 21’ and the pastel-country of the title track.
Borrowing another solo album title from ancient days of yore, LAZARETTO (2014) {*8} marked JACK WHITE as a gothic genius, veering as he did between the blues (loosely adapting BLIND WILLIE McTELL’s `Three Women’), pure country (`Temporary Ground’ and `Entitlement’) to the Heartland howl of `Alone In My Home’: think TRAVELING WILBURYS. Like something that strayed from his Dead Weather/Raconteurs sessions, `That Black Bat Licorice’ beat out from the bones of the blues, while Outlaw Jack headed for the honky-tonk at the bar for finale, `Want And Able’ (via `Just One Drink’).
Missing in action for half a decade, The DEAD WEATHER reconvened for adrenaline-soaked third hit set, DODGE AND BURN (2015) {*7}. Grimy and gritty garage-rock of the highest order, Jack rarely stepped from beyond his drum-kit (`Three Dollar Hat’ the ENINEM-ish hip-hop exception), leaving the menacing Mosshart to pout and swagger her way through the likes of `I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)’, `Buzzkill(er)’, `Open Up’ and `Mile Markers’.
© MC Strong 2006/GRD // rev-up MCS Nov2014-Sep2015

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