Socialist Worker

Punky Beatles from Motown city

by Adam Marks
Issue No. 1886

CD - Elephant

The White Stripes

DETROIT USED to be a powerhouse of US industry.

Many black people emigrated there in the 1940s in search of jobs and to escape from the racist regime in the south. Detroit became a multiracial, working class city. It also became known for music, in particular Motown soul. A less well known but equally deserving legacy of Detroit music is garage rock.

Garage rock was a response to the British music invasion of the early 1960s-a rude, punky distortion of the Beatles and Rolling Stones. It remained very much a subculture. Now a new generation of bands are rediscovering it.

Chief among them is Detroit duo Jack and Meg White of the White Stripes.

Their set is always improvised and depends upon an almost intuitive understanding between Jack and Meg. The extent of their "understanding" provokes intense speculation as to their relationship-brother/sister or husband/wife?

Their music is sparse. Jack plays guitar, Meg drums. Their latest record, Elephant, stretched to the occasional piano.

Elephant is their most accomplished album. Featuring the single "Seven Nation Army", songs range from contagiously loud "Black Math" to the spookily erotic "In the Cold, Cold Night".

Those wanting to explore further can look for the albums White Blood Cells, De Stijl and White Stripes.

If you're tired of production-line pop try the White Stripes for a raw but sophisticated cry from rustbelt America.

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Article information

Sat 31 Jan 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1886
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