Want to pass on the old-school values — the musical essence of rock and roll — to the next generation? This greatest hits package is a killer choice.
In the wake of the ‘90s alternative boom, mainstream rock music had become largely disconnected from its roots in the blues—that is, until The White Stripes hooked it up to some rusty jumper cables and jolted it back to life.
Emerging from the Detroit garage-rock trenches in 1997, the duo of Jack and Meg White embraced a vision of the blues that was equal parts John Lee Hooker and Jon Spencer, projecting a raw primitivism through their minimalist guitar/drums formation, yet also displaying a healthy appreciation for artifice by constructing their own media-trolling mythology.
A married couple at the time, they instead presented themselves as a brother/sister act, wrapping themselves in a childlike white/red color scheme that reflected the perpetual battle between innocence and fury playing out in their music.
While the Stripes were initially right at home among the garage-punk miscreants on the Sympathy for the Record Industry label, their latent appreciation of classic pop songcraft—as evinced by their aching cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” on a 2000 B-side—proved to be their ticket out of the underground.
Alongside The Strokes’ Is This It, 2001’s White Blood Cells became a bellwether for the 21st-century garage-rock renaissance thanks to equally thrashy and catchy nuggets like “Fell in Love With a Girl.”
But with 2003’s double-album behemoth Elephant (and its eternal sports-arena stomper, “Seven Nation Army”), the Stripes transcended the garage realm entirely and entered the echelon of rock’s most omnipotent bands.
They continued to expand the sonic possibilities of a two-piece group up until 2007, at which point Meg’s intensifying battles with anxiety forced them off the road, before they officially disbanded in 2011.
But as a prolific solo artist and the impresario behind the Third Man Records empire, Jack has continued the Stripes’ mission of upholding old-school values in a modern world.