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JACK WHITE: See Jack Collab

While I could offer more than a few adjectives to describe the talent of producer/singer/musician Jack White, nothing justifies the amount of ridiculous musical power the Detroit, Michigan guitarist has.

Words: Jason Weintraub

Half of The White Stripes, a quarter of The Raconteurs and 100 percent badass— ranked #13 Greatest Guitar Player by Rolling StoneJack White has had his fair share of bands and group projects. Still the driving force behind The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, and even playing drums while contributing vocals and guitar, the weight of musical multiplicity hasn’t seemed to bother Jack much. So when the requests to collaborate came rolling in over the years from Alicia Keys, The Rolling Stones, Jay-Z, Bob Dylan, Black Milk and many more, Jack was always ready for it. No challenge seemed too great. And so, Jack ventured into various genres and explored a number of styles that most musicians wouldn’t dare dip their feet, a feat some say has proven that there is hardly a difficult musical venture that Jack can’t accomplish. 

Starting with one of the most popular collabs, Jack and Alicia Keys produced the first ever theme song duet for the 2008 James Bond feature film, Quantum of Solace. The song, “Another Way To Die”, became the second most successful tune for an English movie series (only falling behind Harry Potter), for which Jack wrote the lyrics and contributed parts of the drums, guitar and piano. (Apparently, Alicia just kind of showed up and performed the song that Jack had already created solo.) And while the duet received mixed reviews overall, all agree that instrumentally, Jack’s drums, horns and piano have that “Bond” feel all over it. More importantly, Jack’s addition of the guitar gave way to a modern yet classic sounding theme, which shows just how much of a mastermind Jack really is at making his own unique flair palatable for a more conservative audience.

This notion is made more apparent on his collaboration with 73-year-old Rock’N’Roll legend Wanda Jackson. The pioneer knew that she still had some shake in those bones and was ready to begin work on The Party Ain’t Over, a new album and first in five years. But when her label suggested that she bring Jack in to help revitalize her sound for the project, she had some initial reservations.

“He’s a big star, as big as they come anywhere on the planet, so that was exciting,” Jackson told Billboard.com. “But he also is a rock star, and I don’t do this current, Contemporary Rock-style music. So that’s where the apprehension came in. I wasn’t sure if we’d see eye to eye.”< Understanding that Wanda's loyal fans would be just as resistant to a sound change, Jack simply freshened it up. Not only was Wanda pleased with the result, but the old soul and the young creative guru demonstrated the power of their collaboration on Late Night With David Letterman, wowing an audience of all ages.

In February of 2011, Jack said that he was done being a permanent fixture in bands and would spend the rest of his career either occasionally playing with his bands The Raconteurs or The Dead Weather, or working as a solo artist who collaborates every so often. (Sigh, we already miss the White Stripes…) On Rome, the spaghetti western-inspired project from producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse and Italian composer Daniele Luppi, collaborations from Norah Jones and Jack White were featured prominently. While Jack’s instrumentals and production usually led the way, winning over his musical peers sans force, it was clearly his vocals (which are often seriously underrated) that quietly seized the attention of most in this case. In the song “Two Against One”, Jack’s soulful and somewhat whispery, raspy voice fits the running drums and riding guitar so incredibly well, it’s hard to imagine hearing any other voice on the track.

By now it seems that Jack could do no wrong with his collaborations. Having become so popular, they have become the base of his Third Man Records label. Through it, every collaboration he’s completed within the past two years is available on vinyl. But we beg to argue, is it possible for Jack to ever leave a sour taste in our mouths with one of his collaborations?

Yes, and while most hardcore fans would call us blasphemers for saying so, we still think Jack has a lot of explaining to do after his latest collaboration with his fellow Detroit comrades, the Insane Clown Posse. If the thought of the two working together isn’t enough of a mind fuck, when the partnership was announced, the trio explained they would be working on a cover of Mozart’s “Leck Mich Im Arsch”. Of course, many question Jack’s motive. ICP claims that Jack approached them, saying that more people would talk about this collaboration than any other. While he’s right, we’re not talking it up; we’re merely questioning whether Jack has lost his marbles and if he truly wants to push himself into a place where most get lost and are never to be found again.

Perhaps we will be wrong in the end and Jack will surprise us. While we can’t find them, he may have his reasons. With plans to work with Dolly Parton, The Rolling Stones and others, it’s now obvious that we will never know where Jack is going to pop up next. Whether it’s helping a legend find a new sound or remaking classical gems with Juggalos, Jack White is full steam ahead. We just hope for our sake and his, that Jack can actually pull all of this off, dolo.

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