The White Stripes newest CD, Under Great White Northern Lights, is a live album recorded during their 2007 tour of Canada. A friend of the band documented the tour, but this album is from one concert in particular. From the bagpipe beginning, Jack White kicks into high speed and doesn’t stop till the end.
There are a few singles from their catalog here, “Seven Nation Army”, “Blue Orchid”, and “Fell in love with a Girl”, as well as lesser-known titles like “Black Math” and “Let’s Shake Hands”. Also included is one of my personal favorites of theirs “Jolene”, a cover of a Dolly Parton classic heard only previously during their week-long stint as the musical guests of Conan O’Brien.
Frantic drumming and strumming make the album flow well, but it almost seems like the Whites are in a hurry to get through the show. Most the songs are up-tempo and fit well enough into the concert setting. Some longer songs like “Ball and Biscuit” have their length cut nearly in half, but I can see how you want to keep an audience’s attention during normally slower songs. Jack also sings some songs a little higher-pitched than normally, seemingly losing his voice on the third song in.
Meg White‘s drumming is spot-on as always, without being too flashy, though nothing can take away from Jack’s guitar. I have always seen him as highly underrated when it comes to guitarists of our time. Frantic and raw are two of many words I could use to describe it, and this album has those in spades.
Stand outs include “Icky Thump” with its amazing music in what I an only guess is a synthesizer, and “The Union Forever”, which has always been a favorite of mine ever since I watched Citizen Kane and realized where the lyrics came from. “Jolene” as well is fantastic as you feel he really is pleading for his love to not be taken away.
If you are a fan of The White Stripes, this album is practically a no brainer. To others who aren’t completely familiar with them, or have only heard a few singles, this may be one to skip. My only complaint is I couldn’t make it louder in my car.