Get Behind Me Satan The White Stripes
by Mike D'Ariano 7/2005
1. Blue Orchid 2. The Nurse 3. My Doorbell 4. Forever For Her (Is Over For Me)
5. Little Ghost 6. The Denial Twist 7. White Moon 8. Instinct Blues 9. Passive Manipulation
10. Take, Take, Take 11. As Ugly As I Seem 12. Red Rain 13. I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)
Label: V2./Bmg / Release Date: June 7, 2005
Me and The White Stripes
I first heard about The White Stripes about three years ago. A friend of mine with relatively keen musical tastes was very excited about the fact that they were playing a few consecutive nights at a smallish club here in NYC. He told me that I should go see them, and when I asked why, he simply said, "They rock." It sounded like a decent reason to go, so I made an attempt. All the shows were sold out by the time I made said attempt, and without even a little heartache, I shrugged it off and decided to try and see them the next time they came around.
I did successfully obtain a copy of their self-titled debut album, and guess what . . . it kinda rocked. I loved that they did covers of Robert Johnson's "Stop Breakin Down" and Dylan's "One More Cup of Coffee." The Johnson cover rivals and maybe even exceeds the Rolling Stones version of the same song which appears on their classic album Exile on Main Street. The original stuff on the record was good too.
Plus and when was the last time this happened in recent history the band were mysterious and intriguing without playing a single note. There are only two of them, Jack and Meg White, and there were rumors that they were brother and sister, husband and wife, or both! Then I heard they were divorced. Then I heard all of that stuff was bullshit. I still don't know the truth of the matter.
So anyway, there I was, a fan of The White Stripes, and all of a sudden, like a blind-sided sucker punch, they were the biggest band in the whole fucking world! Magazine covers, over-saturation on the radio and on MTV, bit parts in movies, arrests, a production deal, the works. Rolling Stone even called Jack one of the twenty best guitarists of all time! It was the whole rock star thing, and through it all, they had that "Who me?" look on their faces which to the well-trained eye just screams . . . CONTRIVED!
I officially didn't trust them, and did the best I could to ignore their record. I figured if it really was great, it would stand the test of time and I'd get to it eventually. Mississippi John Hurt's stuff was around for eighty years before I got to it, so Jack White can wait a few months. But on the other hand, if he falls out of favor and I'm still interested, I can get the disc in a bargain bin for three bucks or something.
To this day, I've never heard the band's mega-hit album, Elephant, in its entirety. I even turned down a free copy. I'm good at being stubborn.
The New Album
Some time passed and I still really liked that first White Stripes record but was still refusing to buy the four records that were released after it. Out of stubborn pride and a feeling that they weren't the real thing, I felt they didn't deserve my fifty bucks. Then the day comes that I hear they have a new album on the way called Get Behind Me Satan. The hype was still there, but I liked the title, and wanted to hear the damn thing. So I decided to end my boycott, and got a hold of the record shortly after its release.
The first tune, "Blue Orchid," which is the single I believe, sounds pretty much like the stuff I heard on the radio from the last album. It's their signature sound if you will. Guitar and drums only and Jack singing in a falsetto, sort of like Mick Jagger on something like "Fool to Cry" or "Emotional Rescue". It's catchy as all hell and I'll be damned if I don't like it more each time I hear it.
From that point on, the record changes. The second song, "The Nurse" has a little guitar/drum noise, but features mostly Jack singing along with what sounds like a vibraphone, which is perhaps just a keyboard pretending it's a vibraphone. What struck me was his voice. It wasn't the falsetto that I described above nor the frantic howl I knew from the first album. He sounded like Robert Plant in one of his less pretentious Rock God moments.
And then comes "The Doorbell." The transition is complete. The White Stripes have completely morphed into Led Zeppelin circa 1977. The singing style as well as vocal tone, plus the song structure and the keyboard all fit the mold perfectly. The song would fit on Zep's "In Through the Out Door" or "Presence" without making a single change. I was so sure of my opinion on this one that I played it for a friend, presenting it as a bootlegged rare Zeppelin track and he bought it 100%!
The Led Stripes continue on to the next tune "Forever For Her (Is Over For Me)" and later on the album with tunes like "The Denial Twist" and "Take Take Take." It's really uncanny how accurately they capture the sound, and for that matter, how just the two of them could capture that sound at all. These songs are hands down my favorites on the record.
Another interesting moment is the thirty-second-long song, and only moment on the album where Meg White sings, "Passive Manipulation." The song calls to mind another great band of the past, The Velvet Underground. I'm thinking specifically of the song "I'm Sticking With You" you know, the one when Maureen Tucker, their female drummer (Sorry Meg, it's been done) takes the lead vocal and sings in a child-like sing-song voice. "Passive Manipulation" mirrors it pretty much precisely.
On the whole, I can't figure out how I feel about the record. There's no song on it that's a mind-blowing classic, but there's no song on it that sucks either. When I find myself playing music for a group of people (which is almost every day) I don't put it on, but when I'm listening on my headphones, I play it a lot. It doesn't warrant to "If you're in a band that isn't The White Stripes, it sucks to be you." line in the Rolling Stone review, but then they also claim that Jack White is a better guitar player than Mick Taylor, Slash, and Derek Trucks, so what do they know. All in all, it's just a pretty decent album reigning supreme in the land of mediocrity.