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20 Unspeakably Exciting Jack White Tracks

By Matthew Horton

Matthew Horton on Google+

Posted on 06 Jul 12

 
 



Rock renaissance geezer Jack White hits 37 today (9 July). To toast that lightning-fast slippery slope to 40, here are his 20 best tracks, in a million and one guises.



20Jack White, 'Wayfaring Stranger'



Let's start off nice and easy with this authentic Appalachian folk ballad from the Jude Law/Nicole Kidman bore-vehicle Cold Mountain. White transcends all that with fiddles, mandolins and an air of beautiful, hopeless melancholy.

Photo: Andy Willsher/NME

Photo: Andy Willsher/NME






19The White Stripes, 'Hello Operator'



'De Stijl''s first single cranks in firing metallic sparks of guitar before Meg White taps out a bit of morse code on the drums. After that it's all AC/DC crunching riffs with harmonica to soften the blow. "How you gonna get the money? Nobody gonna answer the phone". Real talk.

Photo:




18The White Stripes, 'I Think I Smell A Rat'



You know how Jack White occasionally sports a floppy Zapata 'tache? Well, 'I Think I Smell A Rat' has one embedded in its grooves. There'll be more spaghetti western later.

Photo: Pieter M Van Hattem/NME

Photo: Pieter M Van Hattem/NME






17The Dead Weather, 'I Cut Like A Buffalo'



All the ghouls come out to play for this spooky cut from Jack's second favourite supergroup. Fairground organ wars with blues riffs, horrific sound effects and total gibberish from White.

Photo: Pieter M Van Hattem/NME

Photo: Pieter M Van Hattem/NME






16The White Stripes, 'Blue Orchid'



White ascends to Prince's – or Robert Plant's – vocal register while his depth charge guitar sends us all off to the doc's with eardrum buzz. Meg, as per, is all over those cymbals.

Photo: Dean Chalkley/NME

Photo: Dean Chalkley/NME






15The White Stripes, 'The Big Three Killed My Baby'



"Gasoline's not measured in metric!" And so we have White flicking the protest button, going in hard against the major car manufacturers, the Big Three. He sounds masterful, commanding, as well he needs to against that lot.

Photo:




14The Dead Weather, 'Blue Blood Blues'



A gruesome riff playing in the deep. It's all about the rude guitar work, and some bite in White's voice as weird analog electronics burble around, submerging Alison Mosshart's input.

Photo: Pieter M Van Hattem/NME

Photo: Pieter M Van Hattem/NME






13Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi feat. Jack White, 'Two Against One'



We're in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly country again with White playing the outgunned suitor as Ennio Morricone's old players provide the drama, but the man himself comes up with the lyrics.

Photo:




12The White Stripes, 'Jimmy The Exploder'



The first track on the 'Stripes' debut album comes on with drums the size of gigantic stalking alien spiders. "Hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo," chants Jack and we are underway.

Photo:




11The White Stripes, 'A Martyr For My Love For You'



White's tellin' stories over a flurry of Spanish guitar and a tipple of cymbal. There's an epic chorus and ravaged riffs in one of the 'Stripes' last fully rounded belters.

Photo: Dean Chalkley/NME

Photo: Dean Chalkley/NME





10The Raconteurs, 'Salute Your Solution'



The drums are so splashy Meg could've snuck in, but the first single from The Raconteurs is all about Jack White and Brendan Benson getting choppy, while Jack's vocal combines studied cool and full throttle attack. Some trick.

Photo: Guy Eppel/NME

Photo: Guy Eppel/NME






9Jack White, 'Love Interruption'



"I want love to stick a knife inside me and twist it all around" Sounds harsh but elsewhere 'Love Interruption' is quite gorgeous, woodwind and Fender Rhodes taking it into Traffic territory while Ruby Amanfu harmonises sweetly.

Photo:




8The White Stripes, 'The Hardest Button To Button'



Controlled aggression, just about. 'The Hardest Button To Button' is all menace and slow-build before vein-bulging release. Heartbreakingly though, it tells the story of a kid trying to find his place in the family when there's a new baby in the house. The big issues.

Photo: Pieter M Van Hattem/NME

Photo: Pieter M Van Hattem/NME





7Jack White, 'Sixteen Saltines'



White puts his lungs into this one, losing cool, dropping guard, letting go. Erm, etc. It's a squalling, head-down rocker just to prove he still has this kind of stuff in his armoury even when striking out alone.

Photo: Jo McCaughey/NME

Photo: Jo McCaughey/NME






6The White Stripes, 'Hotel Yorba'



The one that did it. It was a bit disingenuous of The White Stripes to break through with a skiffle number, fooling that beguiled mainstream. Still, there was a familiar 'Subterranean Homesick Blues' feel to it all – and it was bloody ace.

Photo: Pieter M Van Hattem/NME

Photo: Pieter M Van Hattem/NME






5The Raconteurs, 'Steady As She Goes'



Possibly the most sarcastic record ever made, as White and Benson extol the dubious virtues of the "simple life", switching from Grease's 'Summer Nights' intro to vicious spikes of guitar. All wrapped in deceptively flowery clothing too.

Photo: Andy Willsher/NME

Photo: Andy Willsher/NME






4The White Stripes, 'Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground'



A buzzing riff staying low – "Every breath that is in your lungs is a tiny little gift to me" – creepy. White puts his blues-born screech to one side and almost croons.

Photo: Pieter M Van Hattem/NME

Photo: Pieter M Van Hattem/NME






3The White Stripes, 'Fell In Love With A Girl'



Nearly as good as the Joss Stone cover, this. Terrible joke but it bears repeating. That'll do. If 'Hotel Yorba' opened the door, 'Fell In Love With A Girl' barged right on through, riff off the hook, Meg working overtime to keep up.

Photo: Andy Willsher/NME

Photo: Andy Willsher/NME






2The White Stripes, 'Ball And Biscuit'



"It's a fact that I'm the seventh son" just sounds cool whatever it's meant to signify, but 'Ball And Biscuit' – at seven minutes, about as long as Jack lasts in the game – keeps things icy. Until a thrilling guitar solo fires off pyrotechnics in your face. White gets sexy.

Photo: Andy Willsher/NME

Photo: Andy Willsher/NME






1The White Stripes, 'Seven Nation Army'



If Jack White has managed to leave one calling card in the cultural firmament it's obviously this. On your umpteenth listen it's surprising how subdued 'Seven Nation Army' is, but that just makes the whacking great riff all the more immense. And dig the "Wichita" line, man.

Photo: Dean Chalkley/NME

Photo: Dean Chalkley/NME






 
 
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