Watch Jack White Push The Rock Envelope on Late Night TV

Jack White’s been innovating ever since The White Stripes began blowing down garage doors in Detroit more than 20 years ago. Nobody before him had ever really tried to blend roots music with punk, and even if they had, they surely wouldn’t have had the balls to do it within the confines of a two-person band. There was a mad scientist vibe to the whole White Stripes thing, but this was an experiment that paid off in spades. They brought kinetic energy to the Blues, they brought more content and structure to Punk, and they distilled Rock down to its most essential elements. It was pioneering stuff.

Once freed from the strictures of the Stripes, Jack White was able to pursue his musical vision further and faster, delivering some brilliant new sounds on his first two acclaimed solo albums – and apparently there’s no stopping this mad scientist now. His just-released third solo album Boarding House Reach is so challenging in places, and so all over the map stylistically, that people are calling it an “experimental” album as if that was a bad thing. This is an artist who, like all great artists, refuses to sit still and refuses to stop searching.

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His performance of the new song “Ice Station Zebra” on Colbert the other night is a case in point. This was a jaw-dropping tour de force of originality, power and attitude, and it gives the lie to any of those bullshit claims that Rock Is Dead or Dying. This is more like a glimpse into Rock’s long, fruitful future.

It is one wild-ass piece of music, with power chords, tempo changes, wicked riffs, rap singing and a jazz piano breakdown. There’s little bit of Rage Against The Machine and a little bit of Frank Zappa but this is signature Jack White, still forging new musical directions twenty-plus years into the game, still blowing the minds of the open-minded. We can’t even imagine what kind of crazy sounds he will be making twenty years down the line, but we can be certain it will fucking Rock.

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