There was always something very primal about The White Stripes, whether it was black/red, brother/sister, man/wife, spark/flame, or whatever. It’s not uncommon for artists to gather a certain amount of mystique around them, but for Jack White there was always a sense that these were more than just ornaments – and given that his foil barely spoke in public at all, the band’s truth was always owned by him.
The pair did make a glorious racket though. Raised on the classic sixties and seventies rock of his brother’s record collections, Jack Gillis as was branched out in the unlikely direction of the pre war Blues incantations of Blind Will McTell and Son House before latterly adding The Gun Club and The Cramps into that archaic cocktail. When his girlfriend Meg White sat down behind a drum kit he just had lying around one day and started beating the hell out of the skins, rock n’ roll was about to be saved from it’s late 90’s torpor.
Unlike some other collections Greatest Hits contains at least 50% actual hits, boasting a dozen top 30 chart entries scored over a febrile but productive six year period. Fast and fevered seemed to be the way, their first couple of albums recorded in a few days each and overflowing with a sense of joy in the work, although regrettably there’s no space for their early raw boned covers of Dylan and Robert Johnson.
What you do get is a track roster which should please fans and casual acquaintances alike, from the riotous Fell In Love With A Girl, the Led Zep aping Screwdriver and the remarkably soulful My Doorbell. There was much progression away from that initial punk fuzz, but ultimately the whole shebang is dwarfed by Seven Nation Army, the song that eventually ate the pair as artists, as it would’ve arguably anyone. In the end no magic was strong enough to preserve The White Stipes for long in it’s wake, but Greatest Hits is just that, many short chapters of a book which is still worth celebrating.
You can read the full review here.