A Beginner's Guide to Jack White
    • MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2017

    • Posted by: Robert Steiner

    Jack White: The red-and-white bluesman, the Willy Wonka of rock music, the Third Man and Seventh Son. Jack has done a hell of a lot since bursting into the spotlight with a cheap guitar and a lot of attitude, which isn't an issue for fans who have been there since the beginning. But for others just getting on board now, Jack's massively prolific and wide-spanning catalog might prove to be a little daunting. To help get any greenhorns out there on their way, here's a quick overview of Jack's entire career, broken down into four bite-sized playlists.

    PART 1: The Early Stuff

    The Upholsters, Makers of High Grade Suites
    The Go, "Keep On Trash"
    Two Star Tabernacle, "Plain As Day"
    Goober & the Peas, "Neighbors"
    Jack White and the Bricks, "Ooh My Soul"

    This first part was a little tricky to dig up because most of these songs don't exist outside of YouTube and "used" bins at record stores, but it's still an incredibly integral part of Jack's career. Those formative years gigging around Detroit's underground rock scene is when Jack created and perfected his style and sound, so overlooking it would be missing a large piece of the puzzle. Whether he's front-and-center or playing sideman, these early recordings all show audible hints of the howling, eccentric blues rocker Jack would soon become.

    PART 2: The White Stripes

    Picture this: It's the early 2000s, and rock is experiencing a bit of a revival courtesy of New York City. Bands like The Strokes, Interpol, and LCD Soundsystem all come out of the woodwork to give rock music a much-needed shot in the arm. It was all well and good, but just when it seemed like NYC would yet again dominate the conversation, a little blues-rock duo that were either siblings or ex-spouses emerged from Detroit, quickly grabbed the music world by the balls, and didn't let go for over a decade.

    The White Stripes came about during a great time for rock music, but they also had no trouble standing out from the pack thanks to their untamed, bare-bones sound that combined punk's raw power with the cathartic emotion of the blues. While yes, Jack and Meg White blew up into the stratosphere, and created one of the best guitar riffs of all time with "Seven Nation Army," the Stripes spent basically their whole career hitting it out of the park with every new album. It's amazing to think that the band's last album, Icky Thump, turned 10 this week, and even after all this time, no other band has fully filled the massive hole left by the Stripes' absence (I know which band you're thinking of, and no, they did not. Trust me). Perhaps no one will ever surpass the snarling power of The White Stripes, but at least they left behind a lot of great music to dig through.

    PART 3: Solo Work

    The rock world's collective heart broke a little when Jack and Meg announced the end of The White Stripes in 2011, but if it's any consolation, Jack has definitely kept busy since then. His two critically-acclaimed solo albums still have the bluesy grit of the Stripes, but have a little more production polish, greater exploration into genres like country and folk, and the biggest change of all: A full band (gasp). While the spruced-up sound doesn't always work, especially for people who grew up Stripes fans (this writer included), there are still plenty of solid, high-octane tracks that will make you want to get up and dive into a mosh pit.

    PART 4: Side Projects and Collabs

    Everyone knows the White Stripes and Jack White the solo artist, but some of his most prolific work has come from the multiple bands and projects he's been apart of in his spare time. Take his beloved side-projects The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, both of which had the talent, music, and fan base to be full-time jobs. Both bands have their own unique voice, but you can always tell when Jack White's involved, which is most definitely a good thing. On top of these side-gigs, Jack's also been a go-to guy over the years for artists who want to add some umph to their music. He's helped revive the careers of music legends like Loretta Lynn and Wanda Jackson, he houses countless country, folk, rock, and blues acts with his label, Third Man Records, and he's worked with artists across genres like Danger Mouse, Alicia Keys, and the Queen of Music herself, Beyonce. Currently, Jack's at the helm of American Epic, a three-part documentary series covering the evolution of early American popular music. The series also features modern artists coming in and recording with equipment from the 1920s and 30s, and Jack himself even got in on the action with his friends Elton John and Nas. The fact that even the stuff he does in his downtime is awesome speaks to Jack's sheer talent, so just when you thought you were done, here are even more songs to check out.

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