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Verse Chorus Verse: The White Stripes – “Catch Hell Blues”

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Yesterday I got on a roll about the power, raunch, and goofy fun of Them Crooked Vultures. Today, I felt a call from above commanding me to listen to The White Stripes and I answered it. I rolled through a big slab of De Stilj and then picked my way through Icky Thump and stumbled on to an old favorite and it all seemed to — I hate to overuse the phrase "full circle" but there seemed to be a method to all the madness.

Is it just me or does "Catch Hell Blues" sound a little like Led Zeppelin’s "In My Time of Dying" on massive amounts of steroids? "In My Time…" has the somber, meditative passages before giving way to some hard blues. "Catch Hell" pretty much picks up with those hard blues before splintering into a wall of nuclear-tinged rock.

I love Jack White's slash-n-burn slide work and the grinding, shrieking blasts of feedback and sonic mayhem! Most of my favorite slide guitar players use their slide to play "pretty" blues, so emotional and heartbreaking. There are exceptions to that — J.B. Hutto, for instance. Jack's work on this song is in that same sonic family. This is a violent, confrontational blues. You can feel it in the guitars and hear it in the vocals. Add to all that apocalyptic noise a stanza like this:

And if you’re testing God
And lying to his face
You’re gonna catch hell

That’s vicious! The gospel o' Jack doesn't come in a gentle Psalm. it comes in a powerful Revelation.

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About Josh Hathaway

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    hell…fricking….yes!

  • Josh Hathaway

    I figured this would get your attention, Sir Saleski!

  • Jake M.

    One of the main reasons Catch Hell Blues sounds like In My Time of Dying because both are done in the old Open A Slide blues tuning. Jack primarily uses his Kay guitar for this tuning and of course is a Page fan. You are limited to chord structures in this tuning, having the open chord, but that isn’t a bad thing, and usually pushes the artist, but does lead to things sounding similar.