Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Under Great White Northern Lights

Posted on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 4:00 AM

Under Great White Northern Lights
Composer: The White Stripes
Label: Third Man
Release Date: 2010-03-31
Rated: NONE
Media: CD
Length: LP
Format: Album
Genre: Recording

A companion piece to a new documentary about the White Stripes’ 2007 Canadian tour, this 16-song live album captures the sound and fury the Detroit duo expends onstage. The set begins with a vigorous wail of bagpipes as singer-guitarist Jack White and drummer Meg White launch into “Let’s Shake Hands,” “Black Math,” and “Little Ghost,” hardly pausing for breath. But while the band’s garage-rock background comes to the fore here, it’s not just about turning up the amps and letting Jack unleash his six-stringed monster (though there’s plenty of that).

Their cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is every bit as haunted as the original, while the semi-acoustic “We Are Going to Be Friends” and “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” become sing-alongs. Available as an album (on CD and vinyl), a DVD, and as part of a deluxe box set, Under Great White Northern Lights smacks of overkill, especially for a band that has been inactive for the past few years. But by the time of the Canadian tour — the band’s last — the White Stripes’ shows had evolved into such compelling performances (check out the hard-hitting renditions of “Icky Thump” and “Seven Nation Army”), any document of that era is well worth owning. — Jeff Niesel

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