|First posted 12/5/2020.|
Released: December 4, 2020
Peak: -- US, -- UK, -- CN, -- AU
Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US and UK)
Genre: garage rock revival
Tracks: (1) Let’s Shake Hands (2) The Big Three Killed My Baby (3) Fell in Love with a Girl (4) Hello Operator (5) I’m Slowing Turning into You (6) The Hardest Button to Button (7) The Nurse (8) Screwdriver (9) Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (10) Death Letter (11) We’re Going to Be Friends (12) The Denial Twist (13) I Just Don’t Know What to Do with Myself (14) Astro (15) Conquest (16) Jolene (17) Hotel Yorba (18) Apple Blossom (19) Blue Orchid (20) Ball and Biscuit (21) I Fought Piranhas (22) I Think I Smell a Rat (23) Icky Thump (24) My Doorbell (25) You’re Pretty Good Looking for a Girl (26) Seven Nation Army
Total Running Time: 82:00
4.400 out of 5.00 (average of 4 ratings)
Quotable: “An essential career-spanning collection” – Amazon.com
The Studio Albums:
The snapshots of the studio albums indicate those songs featured on Greatest Hits. Appearing after song titles are, when relevant, the date the song was released as a single and its peaks on various charts. Click for codes to singles charts.
The White Stripes (1999):
De Stijl (2000):
White Blood Cells (2001):
Get Behind Me Satan (2005):
Icky Thump (2007):
Tracks Not on Previously Noted Albums:
About Greatest Hits:
“The White Stripes’ successes have been built on zigging when the rest of the music business is zagging. Thus, for a great band with great fans, a greatest hits compilation for The White Stripes is not only appropriate, but absolutely necessary.” AZ They created “eclectic, often electrifying music, from scuzzy garage rock to traditionalist blues, oddball experiments to stadium-shaking stompers, all of which helped define the sound of indie rock in the Aughts.” PS During “the indie-rock revival of the early 2000s…The White Stripes were easily the most off-kilter band to find widespread acclaim. Jack White had an abundance of talent and a highly specific vision that he pursued with dogged persistence. Meg White provided the anchor for his wild flights of imagination and searing guitar noise.” PS This collection is “a reminder of just how potent they could be together, and that’s as compelling a reason as any to dig into their music all over again.” PS
Having said that, a 26-track compilation is pretty hefty for a group who didn’t have a particularly long career. Jack and Meg White released six albums from 1999 to 2007 and then called it quits. During that time, they certainly didn’t accumulate 20+ “hits.” They landed 11 songs on the alternative rock chart, of which only three made it onto the Billboard Hot 100 and only one (Icky Thump) was a top 40 hit.
“Judging the band by its chart success, though, is the wrong way to measure The White Stripes’ impact: In addition to their highly stylized musical and visual aesthetic, Jack and Meg White never lacked for riveting songs.” PS “From late Nineties flashes of brilliance through early 2000s underground anthems, masterful MTV Moon Man moments, Grammy-grabbing greatness, and worldwide stadium chants, the songs here are as wide-ranging as you can imagine.” AZ
If ever a song proved it can become iconic without storming the charts, it was Seven Nation Army. Despite peaking at a measly #76 on the Billboard Hot 100, the song became a stadium-rattling anthem. Ben Blackwell, Jack White’s uncle and Third Man Records co-owner, recalled watching the White Stripes play at the Pinkpop Festival in the Netherlands in 2004. When the fans wanted an encore, they didn’t chant lyrics but the now-famous riff of “Seven Nation.” SP
“Devotees can quibble about songs they wish had been included, but the essentials all seem to be here, from ‘Seven Nation Army’ to…Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground to Hotel Yorba.” PS The cover of Jolene “still sounds as rough-hewn and foreboding as Dolly Parton’s original is polished and pleading, while the grumbling clavioline and savage guitars on Icky Thump are just as abrasive and disorienting as they ever were.” PS
Considering how many non-album singles the Stripes released, this collection could have done a great service by gathering them together here, but instead they only include two non-album cuts (the aforementioned “Jolene” and Let’s Shake Hands). It’s also surprising they didn’t dig up anything from the vaults to give this more appeal to completists.
The non-chronological tracklisting “demonstrates anew just how idiosyncratic The White Stripes could be from song to song. The gnashing industrialized murder ballad The Big Three Killed My Baby, from the band’s self-titled first album in 1999, contrasts with the chaotic punk energy of Fell in Love with a Girl, the band’s breakthrough single, from White Blood Cells in 2001. By the same token, the waves of melodramatic despondence that build throughout their cover of Burt Bacharach’s I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself, from 2003’s Elephant, set up the terse, punchy garage-blues riffs of Astro, from the first album.” PS
Greatest-hits packages “once served as gateways into bands’ catalogs, or, ideally, a worthwhile survey of the high points of an act’s career. The White Stripes Greatest Hits is both of those things.” PS “In an era of streaming where the idea of a Greatest Hits album may seem irrelevant,” AZ there is something appropriately retro about such a release from a group that felt like a throwback even when they first emerged twenty years ago.
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