I forewent yesterday’s intended He-man session at the gym in lieu of a sweet chili shrimp burrito at Eh Amigo‘s in Port Colborne with the fam jam, so I slipped in a quickie with the heavy iron after this afternoons 3800m swim (which I also blew off yesterday) instead. Sometimes ya gotta do what ya just gotta do. So this afternoon’s 45 minute tribute to ribbing muscle fiber then was set to the debut album by The White Stripes.
This eponymous album dates back to 1999, and was recorded in January 1999 at Ghetto Recorders and Third Man Studios in Detroit (which Jack would later go on own). The album was dedicated to blues great Son House.
Isn’t that nice?
Minimal to the point of sounding monumental, the anemic Detroit brother-sister duo bring on the gusto with their unique brand of what I’m going to dub as “fuzz blues”. Jack’s voice is a singular, evocative combination of punk, metal, blues, and backwoods while his guitar work is grand and banging with just enough lyrical touches of slide and subtle solo work to let you know he means to use the metal-blues riff collisions just so. Drummer Meg balances out the fretwork and the fretting with methodical, spare, and booming cymbal, bass drum, and snare cracks.
The Whites’ choice of covers is inspired, too. Their versions of Robert Johnson’s ‘Stop Breakin’ Down‘ (you may more recognize The Rolling Stones version instead) and the loneliness of Bob Dylan‘s ‘One More Cup of Coffee‘ are inspired. Neither are equal to the originals, mind you, but they do take a distinctive, haunting inspiration through the ‘ol ear buds. And if you also happen to recognize snippets of Son House’s ‘John the Revelator‘ in ‘Canon’…you’re not crazy. All D.I.Y. punk-country-blues-metal singer/songwriting duos should sound this good.
The album opener ‘Jimmy the Explorer‘ may be my favorite though and was what ultimate made me stay upstairs and complete my 45 minute set when the rest of me just wanted to head for the showers and then maybe a patio somewhere. There are other hints of greatness here as well, including the power blues of ‘Suzy Lee‘, the acoustic blues of ‘Sugar Never Tasted So Good‘, and the old-school blues (we’re talking 1930’s here) of ‘St. James Infirmary Blues‘.
And with these workouts in the bag, I’m heading home to my back porch, maybe a sandwich and a few chapters of my new book ‘The Road to Little Dribbling‘ by Bill Bryson. Later, it’ll be a few brews and chews again with the fam jam at Iggy’s.