(photo by Mary Ellen Matthews)
For those of us who consider rock and roll one of the highest, if not the highest, art form, Jack White, nee John Anthony Gillis, can do no wrong. Well, besides perhaps letting (now ex-wife) Karen Elson get away; he may have gotten that one wrong. Not withstanding his roughs and tumbles with the fair sex – we don’t have the bandwidth to review all the back and forth regarding the prior former Mrs. Megan White – Jack has, for the last decade and a half, worked his way up from garage rock rapscallion to bona fide savior of music, thanks to his constant reinvention (White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather), adoration of the craft and its inner workings, and knowledge of / reverence for his mentors and peers. (Except for The Black Keys; he hates them, apparently.)
The first single from his new solo album Lazaretto, “High Ball Stepper”, is a snarling, vicious, blues based monster of an…instrumental. Obviously no major label executives were consulted in the decision process; but who the hell cares, it’s better than 98% of any new music this year, no offence to Coldplay. In typical JW fashion, however, the song does not define the long-player, which also includes country / poppy sing-a-longs, a Jonathan Richman styled garage rocker, and a cry-in-your-beer ballad or two; trying to anticipate the man is a losing proposition. Of course, there’s still plenty to bang your head to; you think a song called “That Black Bat Licorice” is going to let you down easy?
In celebration of the first great rock record of the summer (released next week via Third Man-Atlantic) BlackBook ponders a few more examples of Jack White’s supersonic, incredible awesomeness.
*He built, on camera, a working guitar out of wood, wire, a coke bottle, and a stray pick up in the film It Might Get Loud.
*He made the world’s fastest record, cutting “Lazaretto” (the song, not the whole album) direct to acetate in three hours for Record Store Day.
*Employees at his Nashville based Third Man Records are fined if seen not wearing a color-coordinated uniform.
*He formed The White Stripes in 1997…on Bastille Day.
*He assumed his first wife Meg White’s surname upon marrying her.
*He’s Jack-fucking-White, motherfuckers.