The White Stripes: The Peel Sessions

A few years back I had a friend named Tim who was a huge fan of The White Stripes. He made me a CD compilation (complete with the really cool artwork) of some live Stripes songs he said were from sessions with John Peel, the esteemed English DJ and champion of The Smiths and Nirvana long before their popularity soared. The CD still remains, even if the friendship, sadly, does not.

The Complete Peel Sessions collects a wide array of Stripes’ tunes, ranging from album cuts from their first 3 records, The White Stripes, De Stijl, and White Blood Cells, to a cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”, to several takes of traditional folk and blues (“John the Revelator”, “St. James Infirmary”). The performances are evidence that Jack White possessed a strong sense of showmanship before there was much of an audience to show off for. He is consistently engaging while interacting with the crowd and his host.

The music is strong straight through the 22 tracks presented here, with Jack and Meg White (still being introduced as a “brother/sister” combo) rampaging through most songs at a breakneck pace. The riffs come heavy, sweaty, and loud. Jack’s vocals are more frantic than on record, he sings as if he’s being chased by something terrifying. Meg does what she does, keeping steady, if simplistic, time at the drums. This is an interesting set, especially for fans of the band who weren’t there yet in 2001/2002 when the band broke. It provides a good snapshot of the early period, pre-Rolling Stone/MTV/corporate rock radio, of one of the decade’s best rock bands.


Check out The White Stripes’ website here.


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