The White Stripes

Paru en 1999, sous le label indépendant Sympathy for the Record Industry, ce premier album de The White Stripes témoigne dans tous les aspects possibles d’une simplicité plus que surprenante. Il n’a été enregistré que durant 4 jours et sa production n’a pas coûté plus de 2 000 dollars et pour l’essentiel nous n’avons qu’à faire à une simple combinaison de voix-guitare-batterie et paroles-mélodie-rythme qui marque le chemin de cet album. Cette combinaison contribue notamment à apporter un côté plutôt agressif et  spontané au son qui caractérise ce duo lors de ces débuts.
Le premier morceau Jimmy the Exploder énonce l’esprit de l’album : il dure peu plus de 2 minutes et on peut apprécier la puissante voix de Jack qui hurle à l’image de Robert Plant, accompagné de sa guitare qui joue des riffs à trois cordes simples et répétitifs et du jeu innocent ainsi que rugissant de la batterie de Meg, mais qui subitement bascule vers un passage plus calme pour ensuite revenir à l’explosion.
The Big Three Killed My Baby est aussi un autre morceau symbolique de l’album. Il avait été publié comme single quelques mois avant et contient une rage et une révolte insolite dans ses paroles et sa musique. Ici Jack nous parle de sa ville, et l’un de ses emblèmes, les trois grands constructeurs automobiles Ford, Chrysler et General Motors, ce qui fait de ce morceau un assaut contre l’industrie automobile, la contamination et les licenciements qu’elle engendre.
D’autres morceaux, notamment le triplet Cannon, Astro et Broken Bricks, le premier rarement absent lors de leurs concerts, sont guidés par des riffs aussi simples que brillants avec un rythme tout à fait collant aux influences punk et blues. Vers la fin de  l’album, Little People et Slicker Drips conforment 4 minutes très intenses avec des couplets n’excédant pas les trois accords qui contribuent au minimalisme toujours aussi génial de cet album.
Jack White est tout de même capable de faire ressortir ses qualités de guitariste dans des morceaux comme When I Hear My Name, chanson aux paroles répétitives où l’on peut apprécier des breaks de guitare tout à fait délirants, comme l’est aussi celui de Screwdriver qui revient tout au long du morceau et qui constitue vraiment l’âme de ce celui-ci, le premier jamais composé par le duo. Sur Wasting My Time, qui possède des paroles et mélodies plutôt sombres, Jack nous permet aussi d’apprécier quelques passages de guitare assez remarquables.
The White Stripes tourne aussi vers la ballade bluesy notamment lorsque la guitare slide jouée par Johnny Walker de The Soledad Brothers accompagne Jack et Meg dans Suzy Lee et I Fought Piranhas. La première bascule entre passages tendres, assez doux et passages qui expriment un sentiment de chagrin avec une excellente utilisation du slide au début du morceau et entre les différents passages, présent aussi sur I Fought Piranhas (le dernier morceau de l’album) où l’on peut apprécier quelques solos de guitare qui figurent parmi les meilleurs de ce premier disque.
Sugar Never Tasted So Good est avec Do sans doute le morceau le plus calme. On y retrouve une guitare acoustique, la seule dans tout l’album, et une batterie qui ne joue pratiquement que les cymbales. Alors que Do alterne entre une voix assez calme accompagné d’une très belle mélodie et une voix agitée laissé presque sans accompagnements, dans ce qui est un des morceaux les plus remarquables de ce premier opus.
Enfin, le duo reprend trois morceaux dans l’album (et insère un couplet de John The Revelator de Blind Willie Johnson dans Cannon) se montrant aussi sélectifs qu’efficaces mais aussi originaux au moment d’adapter des chansons qui ne leur appartiennent pas. Les reprises ici présentes confirment les influences blues du duo et leur admiration pour le genre : ils nous proposent d’abord une version électrique avec percussion de Stop Breaking Down de Robert Johnson, où Jack lui même prend le slide joint par une très puissante batterie de Meg. Ils reprennent aussi One More Cup of Coffee de Bob Dylan et St. James Infirmary Blues (un standard du blues attribué sur cet album à Joe Primrose mais qui est en réalité d’origine anonyme et a été joué par grand nombre de musiciens) qui font de The White Stripes un album varié et solide. St. James Infirmary Blues est en effet assez singulier car les guitares y sont absentes, Jack se posant cette fois-ci sur le piano dans un autre excellent morceau de l’album.
Bref, The White Stripes est d’une qualité assez constante et est assez agréable à écouter. L’album est parfois varié, même si pour la plupart des morceaux la structure et l’idée musicale sont les mêmes avec des riffs simples à trois cordes qui créent tout le côté frénétique, mais tout de même Jack et Meg se permettent souvent de baisser l’intensité en y ajoutant des éléments assez divers comme la guitare slide ou le piano. The White Stripes reste quand même un très grand début pour ce duo de Detroit qui nous offrent d’emblée un style qui leur est propre et un son qui les caractérisera pendant longtemps.

01. Jimmy The ExploderNow Jimmy
Well, do you want an explosion now?Yeah Jimmy
Do you want to explode now?

Yeah monkey
Now you seeing red now
Yeah monkey
Jumping on the bed now

Hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo

Green apples
On the tree and growing now
Green apples
Are gonna be exploding now

Yeah monkey
Are you seeing red now?
Yeah monkey
Jumping on the bed now

Woo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo

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02. Stop Breaking Down

Everytime I’m walkin’, down the streets,
some pretty mama she starts breakin’ down
Stop breakin’ down, yes stop breakin’ down
The stuff I got’ll bust your brains out, baby, hoo hoo,
it’ll make you lose your mind.

Now, you Saturday night women’s, you love to ape and clown,
you won’t do nothin’ but tear good man (i.e Jack White) reputation down
Stop breakin’ down, please stop breakin’ down
The stuff I got’ll bust your brains out, baby, hoo hoo,
it’ll make you lose your mind

Now, I give my baby, now, the ninety-nine degree,
she jumped up and throwed a pistol down on me
Stop breakin’ down, please stop breakin’ down
Stuff I got’ll bust your brains out, if you think you lose your mind

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03. The Big Three Killed My Baby

The big three killed my baby
no money in my hand again
the big three killed my baby
nobody’s coming home again

Their ideas made me want to spit
a hundred dollars goes down the pit
30,000 wheels are rollin’
and my stick shift hands are swollen
everything involved is shady
the big three killed my baby

The big three killed my baby
no money in my hand again
the big three killed my baby
nobody’s coming home again

Why dont you take the day off and try to repair
a billion others dont seem to care
better ideas are stuck in the mud
the motors runnin’ on tuckers blood
dont let them tell you the future’s electric
cause gasolines not measured in metric
30,000 wheels are spinnin’
and oil company faces are grinnin’
now my hands are turnin’ red
and i found out my baby is dead

The big three killed my baby
no money in my hand again
the big three killed my baby
nobody’s coming home again

Well i’ve said it now, nothings changed
people are burnin for pocket change
and creative minds are lazy
and the big three killed my baby

And my baby’s my common sense
so dont feed me planned obsolescence
yeah my baby’s my common sense
so dont feed my planned obsolescence
im about to have another blowout
im about to have another blowout

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04. Suzy Lee

There’s a story
I would like to tell
My problem is
It’s one you know too well
It’s one you know too well

Me Suzy Lee
The one i’m speaking of
The question is
Is she the one i love ?
Is she the one i love ?

(all right)
Is she the one i love ?

She’ll send me flowers
With her tears bored inside
And you know what i’d do
I would run and hide
I would run and hide

And the paper
On it was my name
With the question
Do you feel the same ?
Do you feel the same ?

To end this tale
The one i’m speaking of
I wish i have an answer (but i don’t know)
Is this really love ?
Is this really love ?
Is this really love ?

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05. Sugar Never Tasted So Good

Sugar never tasted so good
Sugar never tasted so good
Sugar never tasted good to me
Yeah

Until her eyes crossed over
Until her mind crossed over
Until her soul fell next to me

Now
If the wrinkle that is in your brain
Has given you quite a steam
Your fingers have become a crane
Pulling on these puppet strings

Yeah

What a feeling that’s begun
What a feeling that’s begun

What a feeling that’s begun
What a feeling that’s begun

I felt just like a baby
Until I held a baby
What a fool this boy can be

Yeah

And her thougths like a daisy
Until my mind gets lazy
I must’ve been crazy not to see

Alright

If the wrinkle that is in your brain
Sting, not steam
Your fingers have become a crane
Your fingers have become a crane
Your fingers have become a crane
Pulling on these puppet strings

Water never tasted so good
Water never tasted so good
Water never tasted good to me

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06. Wasting My Time

And if i’m wasting my time
then nothing could be better
than hanging on the line
and waiting for an honest word forever

And if you’re saying goodbye
please don’t you think me bitter
for recalling every rhyme
from the book the page
the line the word the letter

Well the windows turning blue
and the waters ever flowing
and i hope i’m not a fool
for laughing at myself
as you are going

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07. Cannon

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08. Astro

One two three four.

Maybe jasper does the astro,
Maybe jasper does the astro,
Maybe jasper does the astro astro.

Maybe lilly does the astro,
Maybe lilly does the astro,
Maybe lilly does the astro astro.

Well maybe jackson does the astro,
Maybe jackson does the astro,
Maybe jackson does the astro astro.

Maybe Momma does the astro,
Maybe Momma does the astro,
Maybe Momma does the astro astro.

Well maybe telsa does the astro,
Maybe tesla does the astro,
Maybe edison is AC-DC.

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09. Broken Bricks

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10. When I Hear My Name

when i hear my name i want to disappear
when i hear my name i want to disappear
oh oh oh oh
when i see my face i want to disappear
when i see my face i want to disappear
oh oh oh oh

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11. Do

Well somebody walked up to me
but i didn’t know what to do
and then somebody said hello to me
but i didn’t know what to do
because i think that my words could get
twisted so i bend my back over take a
gulp be funny cause i know there’s nothing i can do

Then my mother tried to pick me up
when i was sittin’ down on the ground
something forced my little eyes come open
but i couldn’t make out the sound
it doesn’t matter cause my eyes are lying
and they don’t have emotion
don’t wanna be social, can’t take it when they hate me
but i know there’s nothing i can do

When my thoughts start to feel like mine
they’re taken from me it seems to happen
all the time (every time)
and the feelings that are fine for you
there’s somebody there
who doesn’t think they are true
so think of something new
there’s nothing left to do

And then my idols walk next to me
i look up at them they fade away
it’s a destruction of a mystery
the more i listen to what they say
so does that mean that there’s no more doin’
and there’s no more thinkin’
and there’s no more feeling
cause there’s no right opinion
so can you tell me what i’m supposed to do

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12. Screwdriver

Tuesday morning now
I gotta have somewhere to go
I call up tommy now
I call him on the telephone
Won’t you wake up and come with me now
I’m going to the pawn and loan
Walking down thirty three
Walking on thirty o

Well what am i supposed to think
I drop a nickel in the sink
I love people like a brother now
But i’m not gonna be their mother now
What if someone walked up to me
And like an apple cut right through me
I’m not the one who’s sinnin

Screwdriver
Now that you have heard my story now
I’ve got a little ending to it now
Whenever you go out alone
Take a little dog a bone
Think about your little sister
Then you got to drive it home
With a screwdriver

I got a little feeling goin’ now
I got a little feeling goin’ now

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13. One More Cup Of Coffee

Your breath is sweet
Your eyes are like two jewels in the sky.
Your back is straight, your hair is smooth
On the pillow where you lie.
But I don’t sense affection
No gratitude or love
Your loyalty is not to me
But to the stars above.

One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go
To the valley below.

Your daddy he’s an outlaw
And a wanderer by trade
He’ll teach you how to pick and choose
And how to throw the blade
He oversees his kingdom
So no stranger does intrude
His voice it trembles as he calls out
For another plate of food

One more cup of coffee for the road,
One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go
To the valley below

Your sister sees the future
Like your mama and yourself
You’ve never learned to read or write
There’s no books upon your shelf.
And your pleasure knows no limits
Your voice is like a meadowlark
But your heart is like an ocean
Mysterious and dark

One more cup of coffee for the road,
One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go
To the valley below

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14. Little People

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15. Slicker Drips

you’re lookin’ at me
nowhere to go
what they’re sayin’
I just don’t know
a floor below me
ceiling above
and I’m in the middle
with nobody to love
nobody to love
nobody to love
nobody to love
yeah
well lookin’ at me
nowhere to go
know what they’re sayin’
I just [don’t know?]
a floor below me
a ceiling up above
and I’m in the middle
with nobody to love
nobody to love
yeah, hey, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

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16. St. James Infirmary Blues

Folks, I’m goin’ down to St. James Infirmary,
See my baby there;
She’s stretched out on a long, white table,
She’s so sweet, so cold, so fair.

Let her go, let her go, God bless her,
Wherever she may be,
She will search this wide world over,
But she’ll never find another sweet man like me.

Now, when I die, bury me in my straight-leg britches,
Put on a box-back coat and a stetson hat,
Put a twenty-dollar gold piece on my watch chain,
So you can let all the boys know I died standing pat.

Folks, now that you have heard my story,
Say, boy, hand me another shot of that booze;
If anyone should ask you,
Tell ’em I’ve got those St. James Infirmary blues.

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17. I Fought Piranhas

Well i hold the rope
and i hold the sail
and i kept my papers
to keep from land in jail
and i fought piranhas
and i fought the cold
there was no one with me
i was all alone

Well it’s easter morning now
and there’s noone around
so i unroll the cement
and walk into the town
there was noone with me
and i was all alone
and i fought piranhas
and i fought the cold

Well you know what it’s like
i don’t got to tell you
who puts up a fight
walking out of hell now
when you fought piranhas
and you fought the cold
there’s nobody with you
and you’re all alone

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