White Stripes: White Blood Cells (V2)

When the Stripes hit, they address the world from both ends of the spectrum.

I would have liked to say that the White Stripes represent an affirmation of what is good in rock. But what is rock? Bloated crap with too many instruments, too many lame-ass song ideas, and a need to be several beers into a set before we appreciate it? Music means different things to different people, and although it makes me cringe when people use it as wallpaper, that is their right. The fact that they say they like music, even if it is something that makes me want to vomit, well, good for them; our passion for music makes us better people.

What does this all have to do with White Blood Cells? A little, and a lot. Each time I listen to it, I think I am hearing the distant echo of something that came out of Memphis nearly 50 years prior to this album being recorded there. There is a little Johnny Cash, a little Roy Orbison, a little Jerry Lee Lewis, and even more of the Sun Records’ rockabilly lineup flowing through Jack and Meg White. However, it wouldn’t be enough if they were just to play their Charlie Starkweather-misfit songs, which straddle the border between the sweet naive schoolday dating songs and the paranoia that always lurked on the edge of them.

The reason this CD sounds so authentic and original is the fact that the White Stripes’ music has its roots in those very same Blues that many of the Sun Records artists did (not to mention Janis Joplin, Neil Young, and a long list of others). The album has a few throwaways that almost sound like filler, but when the Stripes hit, as with “Fell in Love With a Girl,” “Little Room,” and the exceptional “We’re Going to Be Friends,” they address the world from both ends of the spectrum: sweetness and light versus the cold reality of adulthood. This is music that is vital, and it peels the wallpaper right off the wall.

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