The Hentchmen with Jack White, Hentch-Forth.Five

Hidden classics unearth yet more strings to Jack White’s bow

Jack White has recorded with close to 8,000 bands – give or take. At one time, no-one was allowed to work in Detroit unless he produced/played guitar/added voodoo sex ‘vibes’. The Hentchmen are one such band. The trio were already well known as a Motor City outfit of primitive garage distinction when White recorded tracks with them in 1998, just as his own candy-striped ideas were taking shape.

That this collection has remained largely hidden for so long is remarkable. Because at worst, with White just on bass – that’s right Stripes fans, Jack on bass! – it’s primal, three-chord retro rock. (And if you think The White Stripes are backward referencing, in The Hentchmen’s world, rock’n’roll ended in 1962.) When White cuts through on vocals and guitar, it’s incredible. At times, it’s like discovering The Beatles playing psych rock. The version of old standard ‘Some Other Guy’, in which White chimes in with his falsetto howl, is the sound you wish The Raconteurs would make. In other places – the freak-out of ‘Little No More’, the distorted bounce of ‘Carry Me Home’ – this album rocks like The Horrors’ godfathers The Sonics. And if all that wasn’t enough, on the cover of ’60s blues rockers Yardbirds’ ‘Psycho Daisies’ you can hear Jack stretching his legs, discovering the surging call-and-answer guitar sound he’d later master.

This is a genuine, honest-to-God lost gem. Without question, you have to hear it.

Paul McNamee