Monday, January 29, 2007
The White Stripes - Life On The Flipsides
I have had this little beauty for a while now and it has many great qualities but information was so scant and contradictory that I decided not to post it until I had more on it. Well, lucky day - here is a review dated from 2004, no less. Man, I am getting slow in my old age....
"Life on the Flipside is a great quality bootleg which is a veritable treasure trove for White Stripes fans. It is comprised of all the early 7" singles, both A and B sides, plus all the B sides of the White Blood Cells singles. As a bonus, there's some live tracks here too.
There's some songs that most serious White Stripes fans will have already. Early single "The Big Three Killed my Baby" is readily available on the debut album, as is early B side "Sugar Never Tasted So Good". "You're Pretty Good Looking" (here presented in a far inferior "Trendy American Remix) and "Hello Operator" are both available on De Stijl, while their cover of "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself", originally a B side of "Fell in Love with a Girl", went on to become one of their biggest hits and is available on their must-have album Elephant.
The real reason to buy this compilation, however, is to obtain the rarities. Early single "Let's Shake Hands" is a ragged protype for the like of "Fell in Love..." and "Hypnotise" and its B side, a cover of Marlene Dietrich's "Look Me Over Closely" is one of several excellent cover versions, a creeping little track with its tongue firmly in its cheek. "Lafayette Blues" is one of the band's most interesting singles, going in several different musical directions in just over 2 minutes, while "Big Three.." B Side "Red Bowling Ball Ruth" is a gloriously sloppy straightforward rocker. The now legendary cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene" is also here, of course, a surprisingly faithful strummer.
Of course, fans who are really on the ball will already own "Let's Shake Hands" and "Lafayette Blues" as B Sides to "Fell in Love with a Girl" but there are a couple of really must-have singles here that you won't find anywhere else. "Hand Springs" still remains one of the White Stripes finest moments, unjustly hidden away as a split single with the Dirtbombs. It is a story song, spoken beautifully by Jack White in a distorted drawl, each short chapter punctuated by a huge, stomping riff. The lyrics are hilarious and the music is exhilirating. The other real hidden gem is the lost single "Lord, Send Me an Angel", a Blind Willie McTell cover which Jack has personalised with his own name in the lyrics. A driving, acoustic blues track, it was released as a single alongside the De Stijl album but was not included on that album which instead featured another McTell cover, "Your Southern Can is Mine".
Another real rarity is the trio of Captain Beefheart covers released on Sub Pop, a lost oddity. Lead track "Party of Special Things to Do" is a bizarre rocker with a rip-roaring fuzzy riff but a poor fade-out ending. The acoustic "China Pig" is a plodding guitar only track which works surprisingly well and "Ashtray Heart" is the best of the three covers with another great riff and frenzied performance. At best these tracks are amusing oddities, although they are worth having for completists.
"Candy Cane Children" is a Christmas song of sorts, although its hardly full of festive jollity. This is another real rarity, realesed first as part of a compilation 7" featuring artists on the Flying Bomb label and later as a limited xmas single, "Candy Cane Children" is great lost track although it takes some getting into. The final real rarity is "Red Death at 6:14", previously only available on a compilation of Detroit groups. Its another oddity that grow with every listen and well worth having for its joyous whoops and thunderous riffs.
What's left are the easier to obtain White Blood Cells B sides but there's plenty worth having among them if you missed buying the singles. The acoustic "live at Hotel Yorba" tracks are charming, with Jack and Meg both singing sweetly together on the excellent Loretta Lynn cover "Rated X" and a minimalist version of "Hotel Yorba". The live cover of Bob Dylan's "Lovesick" is grand, a fittingly heavy rocking tribute to one of the man's lesser known great songs. The two live Radio 1 session tracks are both versions of tracks from the band's debut. "Suzy Lee" is fairly similar to the album version but the Robert Johnson cover "Stop Breaking Down" couldn't be more different. On their debut album the band turned in a heavy rocking, fast paced and utterly brilliant version of the song. This session version showcases a slower paced, more laid back version which is closer to the original and almost as cool as their other version.
There are also a couple of extra rare live tracks thrown in for good measure. The rabid version of "Skrewdriver" on the Late Show is great, especially when the band drop the sound a notch to insert a short passage from "Your Southern Can is Mine" and when Jack sings "I got a little feelin' going now, Meg's got a little feelin' going now". A trio of XFM sessions provide slightly muted, uninspired versions of "Hotel Yorba", "You're Pretty Good Looking" and "Fell in Love With a Girl", all drained of energy and sounding a little off-key (and not in the good way). Two more versions of "Fell in Love..." follow, which seems a little excessive even for people who can't get enough of the song. The version from the late show reinstates the energy missing from the XFM version and mixes in the vocal and drum track "Little Room" expertly. Jack's vocal performance verges on lunatic and all this converges to make the best performance of the song other than the classic original. The final version from the MTV awards is a little more sanitised in keeping with the atmosphere of the tightly controlled event. It segues into a very fine live reading of "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground", however, which utterly upstages the "Fell in Love..." segment. Of the 6 bonus the live tracks, the ones to treasure are the two Late Show performances.
All this variety makes Life on the Flipside worth every penny so definitely pick it up if you get the rare chance to. It fills in most of the crucial gaps in the collection of a White Stripes completist who has only managed to obtain the four albums and the later singles."
1. Let's Shake Hands (Let's Shake Hands 7 inch) 2:00
2. Look Me Over Closely (Let's Shake Hands 7 inch) 2:09
3. Lafayette Blues (Lafayette Blues 7 inch) 2:14
4. Sugar Never Tasted So Good (Lafayette Blues 7 inch) 2:50
5. The Big Three Killed My Baby (Big Three... 7 inch) 2:23
6. Red Rolling Ball Ruth (Big Three... 7 inch) 1:56
7. Hello Operator (Hello Operator 7 inch) 2:29
8. Jolene (Hello Operator 7 inch) 2:59
9. Hand Springs (rare SubPop single) 2:49
10. Party Of Special Things To Do (Party... 7 inch) 2:40
11. China Pig (Party... 7inch) 1:21
12. Ashtray Heart (Party... 7 inch) 2:32
13. Lord Send Me An Angel (Lord... 7 inch) 2:28
14. You're Pretty Good Looking (Lord... 7 inch) 1:45
15. Candy Cane Children (Surprising Package Vol. 2 7") 2:28
16. Red Death At 614 (Sympathetic Sounds Of Detroit LP) 2:59
17. Rated X (live) (Hotel Yorba CD single) 2:47
18. Hotel Yorba (live) (Hotel Yorba CD single) 2:11
19. Lovesick (live) (Fell In Love... CD single) 3:46
20. I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself (Fell In Love... CD single) 2:43
21. Suzy Lee (live) Dead Leaves... CD single) 4:10
22. Stop Breaking Down (live) (Dead Leaves... CD single) 5:36
23. Screwdriver (live on the Late Show, July 17, 2002) 3:49
24. Hotel Yorba (live, XFM London Radio Session 2002) 2:10
25. You're Pretty Good Looking (live, XFM London Radio Session 2002) 1:44
26. Fell In Love With A Girl (live, XFM London Radio Session 2002) 1:50
27. Little Room (live on the Late Show, March 16, 2002) 2:41
28. Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground (live, MTV Movie Awards 2002) 3:20
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