The White Stripes just released a greatest hits album, delighting fans with a tracklist crossword puzzle and videos for classics including “Let’s Shake Hands” and “Apple Blossom.” The band, which broke up in 2011, also unveiled a series of never-seen live performances from their archives, including a powerful “Ball and Biscuit” from Tokyo in 2003.
Now, they’re releasing two live performances from their Get Behind Me Satan era: “My Doorbell” and “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” recorded in September 2005 as a Live at VH1 Session in support of the release.
The performance captures the band at the most experimental chapter of their career. During “My Doorbell,” Meg White bangs the tambourine next to Jack White as he gives a soulful vocal performance, switching between the Steinway and distorted Rhodes. “Dead Leaves,” from White Blood Cells, finds him switching between his Airline guitar and the piano, unlike in the studio version, making the song’s loud moments even more powerful.
When they taped the performance in 2005, the band had just released Get Behind Me Satan, which had them shaking up their sound by incorporating more overdubs and instruments like the marimba and egg shakers.
“The minimalism is still there: vocals, marimba, and drums or vocals, grand piano and drums,” Jack White told Rolling Stone at the time. “Or I play piano, Meg plays timpani and she sings. It’s all in threes.”
“The whole point of the White Stripes is the liberation of limiting yourself,” he added. “In my opinion, too much opportunity kills creativity. I remember in high school, a friend of mine had a magazine with a story about some popular band of the time that was recording an album. The story said they had 80 guitars in the studio to choose from and that there were over 120 tracks of guitar on this one song. Good Lord! Listen to the Stooges’ Fun House. You know there can’t be more than one track of guitar on there [laughs]. Maybe two.”
As these performances prove, the band had no trouble pulling off those songs live.