With the news of The White Stripes splitting up, here’s a quick look back at their studio albums, and what we said at the time. Next week’s NME magazine is a tribute issue to the band, in which NME writers reappraise all six LPs.
‘The White Stripes’
(Sympathy For The Record Industry, 1999)
Their red raw debut catapulted the duo from their Detroit studio onto the world stage (for a few early adopters at least).
Best track: their crunchy take on Robert Johnson’s ‘Stop Breaking Down’.
Buy ‘The White Stripes’
(Sympathy For The Record Industry, 2000)
While still relatively unknown and still signed to a small label, Jack & Meg were starting to knock out songs they’d be playing til the end, short sharp ditties like ‘Hello Operator’.
Best track: ‘You’re Pretty Good Looking For A Girl’.
We said: “These are the new rules, and this record is the musical equivalent of a tub full of diet pills. Imbibe and enjoy.” 8/10 Read the original review
Buy ‘De Stijl’
‘White Blood Cells’
(Sympathy For The Record Industry / V2, 2001)
Their last for Sympathy, and soon picked up by V2 and XL, this was the breakthrough. Early anthems ‘Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground’ and ‘Hotel Yorba’ kicked off an LP that was to tear 2001 a new a-hole.
Best track: ‘Fell In Love With A Girl’.
We said: “It takes three seconds of White Stripes’ third album to recognise that this is a band in thrall to rock’n’roll’s hairy past, unafraid to take on the auras of bluesmen who died before the birth of television and twist them into heavy psychedelic freak-outs”. 8/10 Read the original review
Buy ‘White Blood Cells
Ironically, their long playing lament on fame was their biggest-selling effort to date, and arguably their finest.
Best track: ‘Seven Nation Army’, of course.
We said: “All the excitement we want from rock’n’roll is here, and miraculously few of the clichés. But there’s a sense, too, that Jack White is still grappling with adolescence”. 9/10
Read the original review
‘Get Behind Me Satan’
On which they found the funk (‘My Doorbell’) and numerous other diversions from metal to marimbas, stretching the White Stripes template to breaking point while remaining unmistakably White Stripesy.
Best track: ‘Blue Orchid’
We said: “This is a very brave record, but ultimately one which, after many listens, becomes as beguiling and seductive as old Nick himself.” 8/10
Read the original review
Buy ‘Get Behind Me Satan’
(Third Man / Warners, 2007)
What would be the swansong (for now), ‘Icky Thump’ put everything the two had learned in the preceeding decade in a blender and went on to laugh in the face of categorisation.
Best track: ‘Rag And Bone’
We said: “If Jack White needed a challenge, he’s certainly succeeded in setting himself a bastard.” 9/10 Read the original review
Buy ‘Icky Thump’