White Stripes
Icky Thump
(Warner)
From the the opening bars of Icky Thump, it's blissfully clear that the White Stripes are back on top of their game. Not that they really left it, but Get Behind Me Satan was a little less than what everyone had come to expect ever since White Blood Cells stuck a stick into the spokes of the music industry's wheel of expectations. Icky Thump and the White Stripes are once again ALL about the blues. Like Led Zeppelin or the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Stripes use the basic 12-bar blues structure to provide a focal point for the band to explore, destroy, reverberate and assault the form until it bleeds from its edge. That said, the Stripes formula works best when Meg pounds the shit of the drums and Jack goes nuts on the guitar, making us quiver in disbelief that two people could make such ecstatic noise. The best tracks here ("300 mph Torrential Outpour Blues," "Catch Hell Blues") do exactly that by essentially creating the framework for Jack to wail and fly off the handle with guitar solo after searing guitar solo like he has never done before. Not to be left behind, Meg has also upped her chops lately and displays a more confrontational role by attacking the rhythm and igniting the fire under Jack's tail. After repeated listens, this gets better and better. Just like the band itself.
Dave Hayden
categories: Coast pick

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