The White Stripes - Under Blackpool Lights DVD (Cover Artwork)

The White Stripes

Under Blackpool Lights 📀 (2004)

V2 / Third Man Films

Led Zeppelin are arguably a great influence on the White Stripes. You can't deny the similarities in their shrill vocals and blues-based rock. You could say they just so happen to have similar influences. You could pick apart Stripes songs here and there and find evidence one way or another, but you don't need a microscope to see the influence of Led Zeppelin's Royal Albert Hall portion of their self-titled DVD (released in 2003) on this footage.

I'm not the hugest Led Zeppelin fan, but during my stint as a record store clerk around the release of that DVD I had to watch that footage over and over, day in and day out for months...with the sound off. I have no idea what songs are on that DVD, but I know that footage like the back of my hand. Dick Carruthers, the director of "Under Blackpool Lights," has obviously spent some time with it as well. Visually, you're getting essentially the same product. Raw, grainy, 8MM footage that is as much a part of the film as the people captured on it. You couldn't ask for a more vintage feel unless Toerag studios opened a film division.

Sonically, you couldn't ask for a better recording either. However, in concert, I can't tell if Jack White is a genius or a hack. Every song in their set is brutalized. Some are murdered with ham-fisted guitar freakouts. I don't need to go to a show and hear the song just like it is on the record - that's what I have the record for. You don't have to color inside the lines but at least stay within the book, honey. You're ruining the coffee table. I'm willing to admit I don't play guitar, so maybe there's some really impressive noodling going on that is out of my realm. But after this, as a fan, I don't need to buy another live recording from the band. I feel the same way about seeing them in person. I didn't feel so bad when I saw them for $10 with 150 people but two years later when I paid $40 to see them with 3000 I felt a bit cheated.

And then there's the extras. There aren't any at all. Maybe I've been spoiled by the audio commentaries, alternate takes and additional footage that usually loads other concert DVDs but it's really disappointing that there isn't one additional thing on here.

In all honesty I haven't been disappointed by any legitimate release the White Stripes have done except this one. Artistically it's a nice package, but in all honesty, I watched it once and I doubt I'll put it in again. I do have to say though that when you put all the elements of this package together it's still quintessential White Stripes. Strong visuals, no frills, raw rock and roll.