He always wants to uncover the underdog, he’s doing the DJ’s job…finding the little cracks in the cement around the world. John Peel’s the most important DJ of all time, I think. [Jack White, John Peel’s Record Box]
The White Stripes played here, they did a live session once, and John sat in the corner, where his little studio corner was, and he couldn’t wipe the smile off his face. He was enormously happy, he was there with his glass of red wine, and his friends around him, and his family. The noise was fantastic. He was just in heaven. [Sheila Ravenscroft, John Peel’s Record Box]
JP stated his opinion that the White Stripes were as influential as Jimi Hendrix. Truly a marvellous band they are, but IMHO energetic recreators rather than innovators. Peel began to champion them in 2001 after hearing White Blood Cells, and they had such an effect on him that the aforementioned record box, a kind of treasury of singles that were important to him personally, contained (apart from several copies of Teenage Kicks) more vinyl by the White Stripes than any other band (the Fall having their own section elsewhere).
Formed in Michigan in 1997, it has consistently been a nucleus of two members, Jack White and his ex-wife Meg. That there are only two people producing such a powerful sound is little short of miraculous, yet they only came to prominence with their fourth LP, released on April Fool’s Day 2003 (Peel confided to his listeners that he had been prevented from playing pre-release tracks from the album by ‘a bunch of lawyers in New York’).
The ethos is consistently garage rock, stripped down to the basics, also deploying blues to suit its purpose. Seven Nation Army (FF 2003 #10) has a growling, threatening sound to match its lyrics of revenge, and this was a sizeable chart hit in the UK too (it went on to win a Grammy award for Best Rock Song). Black Math (FF 2003 #17), on the other hand, is out and out rock and roll, changing tempo midway in its tale of intellect versus emotion: the band frequently include references to school and childhood in their lyrics.
It was also the occasion of a ‘cock-up’ in the FF when JP started to play Army before realising after half a minute that he had the wrong track on. Festively related material from the pair can be found over here.