It feels odd to be reviewing a compilation record with Jack White’s name emblazoned on its sleeve. A man with a collective songbook as vast as his should absolutely be commended in this fashion – a record spanning his eighteen-year career as a professional musician. It’s perplexing putting the needle down on this record because White has been so anti-greatest hits throughout his career. From the stadium roaring riffs of The White Stripes to the more blues-rock revivalism of his solo moniker, this collection portrays White’s more humbling song writing abilities rather than his guitar god stature.
In execution, the album’s track listing, and its ordering, is presented chronologically with 80% of its tracks being pulled directly from the source material while the balance coming from acoustic remixes, bootleg demos and even one previously unreleased The White Stripes song.
City Lights, the “new” White Stripes song, was ripped from the Get Behind Me Satan sessions. Sprawling and simple, City Lights is arguably the record’s centrepiece and a powerful testament to White’s guitar playing finesse and innate ability to tell a charming story.
With his sound expanding, thanks to an ever-rotating group of hand-plucked and equally talented Nashville musicians, White’s two solo records – Blunderbuss and Lazaretto – receive a solid chime in. Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy is a nostalgic reinterpretation on the American dream, “Let the stripes unfurl”. Commonly misconstrued as a reference to his former The White Stripes bandmate and wife, Meg White, the record, without looking at the liner notes, makes little effort to mention Meg’s involvement in the music.
The saddest day in my personal rock history was the announcement of The White Stripes’ breakup. Admittedly, I was selfish. This band meant so much to me, why did they have to stop? However, Acoustic Recordings is a self-sufficient piece of song writing memorabilia for a musician who’s forever been ahead of curve while forcefully, through his art, trying to stay behind it.