Frequent Jack White consigliere Ben Blackwell (his words, not mine) once said of his Uncle's band's earliest performance that it was "the shot heard 'round the world," channeling language about the American Revolution to describe the magnitude of music's most prolific and interesting character, Mr. White. Now, on July 14, 2017, what better way to celebrate the beginning of the French Revolution than to stream the now twenty-year-old debut of darling garage rockers (and music industry revolutionaries) The White Stripes?
The three-track EP "Bastille Day" contains "St. James Infirmary Blues," "Jimmy the Explorer," and "Love Potion #9" two of which make it onto their self-titled debut some two years after the live performance at Detroit's now-defunct Gold Dollar bar and venue. Formerly only available as a 7" single in Third Man's Vault subscription service, Bastille Day is now available to stream everywhere.
Musically, "Bastille Day" falls so completely in line with the ways The White Stripes are discussed: raw, immediate, bluesy. Meg White's drumming, while simple, is so clearly the driving and constraining force of Jack's freewheeling improvisation, although you'll notice, especially in the cover of "Love Potion #9" that White is less confident as a frontman. Here he is missing the cocksure swagger of Icky Thump-era "Seven Nation Army" confidence that can fill an area, or the maestro genre-bending of Blunderbus & Lazaretto. This vulnerability, the warble of his so young sounding voice really amps up the stakes for these songs. The White Stripes play on "Bastille Day" as if in White's mind, were this performance to go sour, maybe his career would have to have been in upholstery, and not the decades-long rocker and man of musical mystery.
Thank god we have history, and this new live EP, to set the record straight. "Bastille Day" is an essential for fans of White, The White Stripes, and good music.