Music Opinion

White Stripes drummer triggers Twitter frenzy

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Meg White is best known as the drummer for The White Stripes (Image by Dena Flows | Radio Gráfica)

When U.S. journo Lachlan Markay lit up Twitter with an ill-conceived attack on the musical ability of Meg White, former drummer of The White Stripes, he got slammed, quick sticks.

MEG WHITE CRITIC DRUMMED OUT OF TOWN

Loads of fellow musicians rushed to White’s defence, most notably Questlove

Markay then removed the offending tweet, apologised and locked down his online presence so he could eat a few healthy servings of humble pie.

I’m not here to pour scorn on Markay — he’s already copped enough of that elsewhere. But rather, this incident does pose a perfect opportunity for me, a fellow drummer, to give the very underrated White such kudos and credit as she deserves for her contribution to popular music.

A lot of drummers forget that our job is not just to hold the beat down and keep the band together but to play in such a way that suits the song, as opposed to playing in a way that satisfies our egos.

Meg White is the master of understatement and execution: every time she committed a drumstick to skin, she did so knowing she was playing the right thing at the right time, and that thing was, more often than not, the perfect sound to fill the space in the song.

She played expertly and under difficult circumstances, playing without a bass player to follow along with — an environment most other drummers don't experience. She followed her former husband, guitarist Jack White, in whatever he felt like doing and she kept the rhythm tight. That’s a tough thing to do.

The White Stripes didn’t need a “better” drummer. They already had the best.

IAN HUNTER LIVES ON IN DEFIANCE

Rock 'n roll stalwart Ian Hunter, formerly of '70s British rockers Mott The Hoople – whose solo career is almost 50 years deep now – has two albums in the pipeline: Defiance Part 1 (due for release on 21 April 2023) with part two to folllow.

At 83 years of age, Hunter's vocals have never sounded better and these new songs are some of the best things he’s done in years. He has gathered a cavalcade of guest stars, ranging from the late Jeff Beck and Taylor Hawkins to members of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Stone Temple Pilots.

'Bed Of Roses' is a single from the first part of the album, revisiting Hunter's time playing clubs in Hamburg in the early 1960s — at a similar time to when The Beatles were there. Serendipitously, the track features ex-Beatle Ringo Starr on drums!

LOIS LEVIN SHOULD DEFINITELY STAY

If you’re going to do a cover of a well-known song, you could do a straight recreation, but I think the onus is on the artist to elevate the source material into something bigger and better.

There’s a new jazz label based in Liverpool, UK, called Baltic Jazz Recordings. One of its first releases is from Liverpudlian singer-songwriter Lois Levin

Levin brings a sultry, inviting and soulful vibe to classic 1982 single by The Clash, 'Should I Stay or Should I Go'. As a result, it becomes a stunningly beautiful yet completely different creation.

Listen to the song again — for the first time.

RIPPLE EFFECT BAND MAKING WAVES

My best new discovery this week comes from Maningrida, a coastal community of Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory — a groundbreaking all-female, multi-generational First Nations band called Ripple Effect Band.

Within the culture of the Kunibidji people of the area, music is almost entirely an activity for men. As such, for women to be claiming this field of artistic endeavour, it's a pretty big deal.

All the members are multi-instrumentalists, and they regularly swap roles on stage in order to give each member a chance to front the band and sing in their native language.

This is beautiful reggae-inspired music about the redemptive power of the sea, set to a video of pristine ocean scenery.

WAKE UP TO TASMIN ARCHER'S SLEEPING SATELLITE 

Last but not least, a lost classic from the 1990s. British vocalist Tasmin Archer is best remembered for this massive hit, which makes having an existential crisis sound so enchanting.

Lyrics like:

'Have we lost what it takes to advance

 have we peaked too soon…'

These are delivered with a honeyed vocal that can turn raspy and husky on a dime. Memorable, magnificent and just too good to be relegated to a classic hits playlist.

Do yourself the favour...

David Kowalski is a writer, musician, educator, sound engineer and podcaster. His podcasts 'The Sound and the Fury Podcast' and 'Audio Cumulus' can be heard exclusively here. You can follow David on Twitter @sound_fury_pod.

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