Book Review: The White Stripes – Morphing the Blues

The White Stripes
“Morphing the Blues”
(Chrome Dreams)
Usually the allure of unauthorized rock ‘n’ roll band biographies is the sex and drugs part of the equation. This tome focuses on Jack White of the alt-blues duo and while he may say, “I’m Finding It Harder to be a Gentleman”, Gentleman Jack has left no such titillating muck for British journalist Martin Roach to rake. Roach subtitles his book “And The Strange Relevance of Detroit”. Indeed, as one living in greater Detroit, I say it must be strange to a Brit who while offering a spectrum of sources such as guitarist Mick Collins (The Dirtbombs, The Gories), producer Jim Diamond and Johnny Szymanski (The Hentchmen) largely offers the views of Neil Yee and Gary Graff to put Detroit and The White Stripes in perspective. Thus he dips deeply from eddies at the source of the river (Yee ran seminal club The Gold Dollar where bands like The White Stripes played for 50 or less fans) to the muddy confluence at the end (Graff is founding editor of MusicHound Rock and yaks it up with FM jocks on air). In the end we get the context that gave birth to The White Stripes as if explained by visiting aliens trying to understand it all. Still, this is an interesting read with complete overviews, often track by track, of the albums. The indexed book with official and bootleg discographies makes for a good reference on The White Stripes although it may not be particularly illuminating without the participation of the private and reclusive pair. Be prepared for such proofreading lapses in this breezy account as the Black Sabbath guitarist referred to as “Tommy Lommi” and The Flaming Lips simply as “Flaming”. Roach does go far to explain if not ponder much of the group’s symbolism and the equivocal, guarded relationship between Meg and Jack White.

Tom “Tearaway” Schulte