The White Stripes- Under Great White Northern Lights

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December 1, 2010 by Dan Swinhoe

We all forget things over time. And with the amount of output Jack White produces it would be quite easy to forget about the White Stripes under layers of Raconteurs, Dead Weather and Solo projects. More importantly, we could forget how good the White Stripes actually are.

It’s amazing that this is the first and only live offering the band have released in all it’s glory, and from what’s on show, it really shouldn’t be the last.

The songs are taken from a run of shows in Canada, but you wouldn’t know from listening. The songs shift smoothly, and the energy levels stay high from both the band and crowd through out. It helps that Jack doesn’t shout the name of the city in encouragement every 30 seconds like some bands do.

From the bagpipe opening they storm into a screaming “Let’s Shake Hands”, and suddenly all the other side projects are forgotten and it’s the white stripes that should be remembered. It’s a simple set up, but their garage rock drum and guitar simplicity still creates a huge sound and even bigger songs.

White has always liked to jam and play around on stage, and “Ball and Biscuit” is barely recognisable, being half the length and having none of the original lyrics, but it still works. It’s the rough, off the cuff attitude that makes it all so appealing.
The whole disc sounds spontaneous, rough around the edges and all the more appealing for it.

“I’m Slowly Turning Into You” and “Seven Nation Army” get techno flourishes worthy of the Dead Weather while “Icky Thump” has an even more manic organ solo than normal.

“Jolene”, “Blue Orchid” and “Seven Nation Army” are all present, as older favourite “Fell In Love With A Girl”. Older material is pretty much left off, only “When I Hear My Name” and a rather rubbish “The Union Forever” flying the flag for pre “Elephant” stuff. The curse of such a prolific and skilled band is there’s always songs missing that sound have been played, “Hotel Yorba”, “My Doorbell” and “The Denial Twist” are all noticeably absent.

“Under Great White Northern Lights” is a timely reminder of how great the stripes are, and should soon lead to demands of their return, especially to the stage, as soon as possible.

NME’s best of the Noughties

NME loves Jack White, and this playlist based on their top 50 of the noughties has a big share of his work, along with a big portion of the best stuff to be released in the decade just gone. From Eminem to Surfjen Stevens, this caters to everyone.


A playlist chocked full of a wide variety of stuff, from Wylclef Jean to more mainstream rock like U2 and beach boys, with a wide helping of White’s solo stuff in-between.

Last FM’s best of 2009

This playlist only has the Dead Weather album, but let’s you relive the memories of last year with all the most popular tracks from Last FM.

Click here to listen to the White Stripes – Under Great White Northern Lights on Spotify.

Dan Swinhoe

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