Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jack White's Lazaretto & Show # 542

Jack White’s Lazaretto starts off with the piano, organ and heavy drum filled “Three Woman”, which on the surface appears to be a song about, well, three woman. It has been hinted at in old interviews that this is what Jack refers to his guitars as. In the song he states, “I got three woman/Red, Blonde and Brunette”, each one apparently one of the guitars he uses in the different bands that he plays in. When looking at the song in this context as the words “How come I gotta have a woman/To blow these blues away?” hover between the organ riffs, perhaps this song is a subliminal telling of what’s to come from Jack musically in the future, or maybe it is simply about what the song’s title suggests. “Three Woman” is carefully disguised and structured not giving too much away, but it also leaves enough for the listener to think about to keep you wondering. The song ends in a rave up of blues guitar riffs, dizzying organ, bass and drums.

The title track “Lazaretto” is a combination of funky rhythms and distorted guitar riffs. The song, which was apparently based off of some old poems that Jack wrote at the age of 19, builds up with a solo before ending out in a combination of slow lumbering riffs, distortion and violin. Lazaretto is an old term that references a quarantine hospital that housed people of disease and it dates back to the late 1700’s and decades prior to this. Within this dynamic, the album takes on a new form as we are quarantined through eleven tracks, with subjects and music structures falling within Jack White’s song writing abilities.

“Temporary Ground” starts off with folk and country sounds. It features piano, pedal steel and female vocals from Little Mae Rische. The song has the same lighthearted feeling that we heard on Elephant and on some of the slower songs on earlier White Stripes recordings. “Would You Fight For My Love?” starts off in a cinematic way of sorts, as tom fills, piano and female harmonies start off the track. When the chorus hits we hear loud volumes of electric guitar. The sound is intense and reminiscent of the feel of early guitar riffs from Link Wray and gritty White Stripes recordings. This blends in with haunting organ and backing vocals as throughout the song we hear lyrics such as “I’m getting better at becoming a ghost” which shows us a transparent feeling lyrically. The instrumental “High Ball Stepper”, apparently was written when White had a day off from touring. It sounds like it could be from a Western, as heavy guitar riffs drift amongst backwards sounding pedal steel and creepy chants.

On “Alone In My Home” Jack sings of “Becoming a ghost/Becoming a ghost/So nobody can know me” and “Lost feelings of love/They hover above me”, bringing us back into the transparent feeling that was first reflected on “Would You Fight For My Love?” but in a different context here. “Entitlement” is a slow country ballad. This is another song that showcases the space in which Jack White fills on Lazaretto. He adds more instrumentation and production values filling out the stereophonic gaps, upgrading the once ramshackle lo-fi garage-blues recordings he’s been known for. With lyrics such as “Stop what you’re doing get back in line/If we can’t be happy then you can’t be too” and “Don’t they feel like they’re cheating somehow” Jack expands on bitter feelings of being told you’re wrong, being told what to do and of peoples sense of entitlement amongst the lush country arrangements that float softly like blades of grass on an old Hank Williams record.

“Just One Drink” lyrically seems to address alcohol and bad relationships as musically the song features a foundation built of rock dynamics as a house of country arrangements sit atop. “Want and Able” ends the album musically, by featuring basic bare bone instruments. The track features, piano, acoustic guitar and vocals only as lyrically the song is a folk tale. We hear about two characters that seem to represent the greedy and sensible sides of one’s consciousness as they get entangled in societal conventions.

On Lazaretto, the listener floats from song to song, stuck if you will, until the album’s conclusion. When released on vinyl, Lazaretto was featured on what was called the “Ultra LP”. The album featured one side that plays in reverse, continuous loops of feedback and birds crowing on each side of the album respectively and, a hologram of an angel. The vinyl literally takes on a journey physically like no other record has before and lyrically it is different than 2011’s Blunderbuss. As the needle drops on Lazaretto, the listener is exiled to a haunting, vicious, at times beautiful place we’ve never been before, until we get cast adrift and turn the record over again.

Saturday Night Play List:

1. Marshmallow Overcoat - Groovy Little Trip
2. The Night Beats - 18 Glowing Phantoms
3. Neil Jarvis - Shred Met
4. Denise & Company - Boy, What’ll You Do Then
5. Luke & The Apostles - Been Burnt
6. Los Straitjackets - Fury
7. Parkay Quarts - Pretty Machines
8. The Replacements - I.O.U.
9. The Nils - Banditos Calling
10. Alex G - After Ur Gone
11. The Heart Attack Kids - Platonic Love Bomb
12. Silent Movie Type - Spillkit
13. Lowlife - Leaders
14. The Flesh Columns - Time's Up
15. Marshmallow Overcoat - 13 Ghosts
16. Tara Watts - S.O.S
17. The Mallard - Over And Under
18. Andre Williams - I Still Love You
19. Johnny Bell - The Third Degree
20. White Heat - Nervous Breakdown
21. The Swollen Members - I Like Living In Scarborough
22. Tricky Woo - Rock 'n' Roll Vs. The World
23. Death - Freakin Out
24. The Flesh Rags - Night Stalker
25. REM - Rotary Ten
26. Bad News Boys - Alone Again
27. Deja Voodoo - Wall Of Paisley
28. Ariel Pink - Put Your Number In My Phone
29. Useless Eaters - American Cars
30. Indian Wars - Who Needs A Girl Like You
31. Jack White - Temporary Ground
32. Jack White - Would You Fight For My Love?

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for January 10. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

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