Elephant (album)

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This article is about the album. For the movie released in the same year, see Elephant (2003 film).
Elephant
Elephant, The White Stripes.png
Studio album by The White Stripes
Released April 1, 2003 (2003-04-01)
Recorded November 2001 and April 2002 at Toe Rag Studios and BBC Maida Vale Studios, London, England
Genre
Length 49:56
Label V2, XL
Producer Jack White
The White Stripes chronology
White Blood Cells
(2001)
Elephant
(2003)
Get Behind Me Satan
(2005)
Singles from Elephant
  1. "Seven Nation Army"
    Released: March 7, 2003
  2. "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself"
    Released: September 2003
  3. "The Hardest Button to Button"
    Released: December 3, 2003
  4. "There's No Home for You Here"
    Released: March 15, 2004

Elephant is the fourth album by the American alternative rock duo The White Stripes. Released on April 1, 2003 on V2 Records, its release garnered near unanimous critical acclaim and commercial success,[2] garnering a nomination for Album of the Year and a win for Best Alternative Music Album at the 46th Grammy Awards in 2004, peaking at No. 6 in the US Billboard charts and topping the UK album charts.

In later years the album has often been cited as the White Stripes' best work and one of the best albums of the 2000s; Rolling Stone magazine ranked it 390th on its list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" and later, the fifth-best of the decade. Third Man Records released a limited edition red, black and white vinyl reissue of "Elephant" on April 20, 2013, in celebration of the album's 10-year anniversary, as a Record Store Day exclusive.[3]

Background and production[edit]

Production[edit]

Elephant is the White Stripes' fourth full album and the second to be released by V2 Records.[4] In this album, the White Stripes attempted to achieve the idea of "Back to Basics" as well as encouraging other rockers to try the same way.[5]

Including the song "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself" (a Burt Bacharach cover) in their repertoire was Meg's idea, and the band had begun to cover the song live.[6]

It was recorded over two weeks in April 2002 in London's Toe Rag Studios except for the songs "Well It's True That We Love One Another" was recorded at Toe Rag in November 2001, and "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself", which was recorded at the BBC's Maida Vale Studios. Jack White produced the album with antiquated equipment, including an eight-track tape machine and pre-1960s recording gear.[7] As stated in the liner notes, White deliberately refrained from using computers during Elephant's writing, recording, or production. The White Stripes set their own rules while they were recording this album: ten days in a non modern studio.[8][9] They chose to record in Liam Watson's modest Toe Rag studio in Hackney, London, England.[9] The liner notes included the disclaimer, "No computers were used during the writing, recording, mixing, or mastering of this record,"[9] and none of the recording equipment was more recent than 1963.[10]

The special edition 2013 Record Store Day, and August 2013 180-gram black vinyl reissues were pressed at United Record Pressing in Nashville, TN.[11]

Themes[edit]

The album's theme's revolve around the idea of the "death of the sweetheart" in American culture.[12] In this album, the White Stripes expanded their style more than ever before, such as using a bass line - their rarity, piling with lead and rhythm guitar. Moreover, during the album Jack played guitar or keyboard to fill out the sound but to the audience, it still felt raw.[5] Like other White Stripes records, the cover art and liner notes are exclusively in red, white, and black, and there is a song that contains the word "little" in the title ("Little Acorns").

Cover art[edit]

The album has been released with at least six different versions of the front cover—different covers for the CD and LP editions in the US, the UK and elsewhere.[13] To give an example, on the US CD edition Meg White is sitting on the left of a circus travel trunk and Jack is sitting on the right holding a cricket bat over the ground, while on the UK CD edition the cricket bat touches the ground and the image is mirrored so that their positions on the amplifier are reversed. The UK vinyl album cover is the same as the US CD but differs in that the color hues are much darker. The cryptic symbolism of the album art includes a skull sitting on the floor in the background, as well as peanuts and peanut shells in the foreground, and on the circus travel trunk appears the mark "III," Jack White's signature. Jack White is also displaying a mano cornuta and looking at a light bulb intensely, while Meg White is barefoot and appears to be crying, with a rope tied around her ankle and leading out of frame. Both have small white ribbons tied to their fingers. On the reverse side of the U.S. edition, all of the number "3"s are in red (disregarding the authorization notes at the bottom).

The Record Store Day 2013 vinyl and August 2013 180-gram black vinyl reissues have Meg wearing a black dress instead of the usual white dress; the only other release with Meg wearing the black dress was on the V2 advanced copy back in 2003. The advanced copy was on red and white vinyl, while the RSD copy has red, black and white colored vinyl in 2013.

In an interview with Q Magazine in 2007, Jack White said, "If you study the picture carefully, Meg and I are elephant ears in a head-on elephant. But it's a side view of an elephant, too, with the tusks leading off either side." He went on to say, "I wanted people to be staring at this album cover and then maybe two years later, having stared at it for the 500th time, to say, 'Hey, it's an elephant!'"

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 92/100[14]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[1]
Entertainment Weekly B[15]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[16]
Los Angeles Times 4/4 stars[17]
NME 9/10[18]
Pitchfork Media 6.9/10[19]
Q 4/5 stars[20]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[21]
Spin A[22]
Uncut 5/5 stars[23]

Upon its release, Elephant received widespread acclaim from music critics. The album enjoys a Metacritic rating of 92.[14] The White Stripes were gaining momentum with their previous three albums and were generally lauded in critical circles,[10][10] and many critics hailed Elephant as one of the defining events of the 2000s garage rock revival.[7] Uncut magazine remarked that "Elephant is where the tabloid phenomenon of summer 2001 prove they are no flash in the pan by making a truly phenomenal record."[24] David Fricke (with Rolling Stone) called it "a work of pulverizing perfection," adding, "It will be one of the best things you hear all year"[21] and Allmusic said the album "overflows with quality".[1] Critics also commented on the development of the band. NME noted that "The eloquence, barbarism, tenderness and sweat-drenched vitality of Elephant make it the most fully-realised White Stripes album yet."[18] PopMatters said the album cemented "their evolution from Blind Willie McTell cover band with a pop sensibility to full-fledged, honest-to-goodness rock 'n' roll gods."[25] Negative critique, though rare, was centered around the "gimmicks" that surround the music, most notably, the White Stripes' insistence on being called siblings. "So maybe it's time to drop the enigmatic charade," Lorraine Ali (with Newsweek) pleaded, although she concluded, "Elephant still sounds great."[26] Robert Christgau gave the album a three-star honorable mention ((3-star Honorable Mention)) upon release,[27] but later claimed that he had initially underrated it, and gave it a new grade of A minus.[28]

However, this album won big awards in just the first year: three MTV Video Music Awards, two summer dates with the Rolling Stones, and a sold-out gig at the venerable Radio City Music Awards.[29] The According to Rolling Stone magazine, White matches the energy from his earlier albums and is even thought to "[exceed] the plantation holler of 2000's De Stijl and 2001's White Blood Cells with blues that both pop and bleed".[30]

The album debuted at number one in the United Kingdom and reached number six on the Billboard 200 in the US. The album won Grammys for Best Alternative Album and Best Rock Song ("Seven Nation Army"). In 2003, the album was ranked number 390 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It was also placed thirty-ninth in Channel 4's list of the 100 Greatest Albums of all time.[31] In December 2003, NME made it their Album of the Year. In 2011, Rolling Stone called Elephant the 5th best album of the decade,[32] and Seven Nation Army the 6th best song of the decade.[citation needed] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[33]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Jack White, except where noted. 

No. Title Length
1. "Seven Nation Army"   3:52
2. "Black Math"   3:04
3. "There's No Home for You Here"   3:44
4. "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself" (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) 2:46
5. "In the Cold, Cold, Night"   2:58
6. "I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother's Heart"   3:21
7. "You've Got Her in Your Pocket"   3:40
8. "Ball and Biscuit"   7:19
9. "The Hardest Button to Button"   3:32
10. "Little Acorns" (Mort Crim, J. White) 4:09
11. "Hypnotize"   1:48
12. "The Air Near My Fingers"   3:40
13. "Girl, You Have No Faith in Medicine"   3:18
14. "Well It's True That We Love One Another"   2:43
Japan edition bonus tracks
No. Title Length
15. "Who's to Say" (Dan John Miller) 4:36
16. "Good to Me" (Brendan Benson) 2:07

Personnel[edit]

Chart history and certification[edit]

Chart procession and succession
Preceded by
Meteora by Linkin Park
UK number one album
April 12–25, 2003
Succeeded by
A Rush of Blood to the Head by Coldplay

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Phares, Heather. "Elephant – The White Stripes". AllMusic. Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  2. ^ Leahey, Andrew. "The White Stripes > Biography" at AllMusic. Retrieved September 24, 2011.
  3. ^ McGovern, Kyle. "Jack White Stomps All Other Record Store Day Exclusives With 'Elephant' Reissue". Spin. Retrieved April 23, 2013. 
  4. ^ Andrew Leahey. "The White Stripes - Discography - AllMusic". AllMusic. 
  5. ^ a b Pareles, Jon. "White Stripe: Same Old Colors". The New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  6. ^ Phipps, Keith (April 9, 2003). "The White Stripes", AVClub.com. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
  7. ^ a b Fridge, David (April 17, 2003), "Living Color". Rolling Stone. (920): 102
  8. ^ Katchen, Andrew (March 29, 2003), "White Stripes Stay Pure on 'Elephant'". Billboard. 115(13):9
  9. ^ a b c Various artists (November 1, 2007), "The White Stripes Elephant". The Mojo Collection—The Ultimate Music Companion (4th Edition). Canongate Books.
  10. ^ a b c Cameron, Keith (March 28, 2003), "The sweetheart deal". The Guardian. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  11. ^ "White Stripes - Elephant - RSD Reissue - on press! - Facebook". facebook.com. 
  12. ^ Lindgren, Hugo. "The Way We Live Now: Questions for the White Stripes". The New York Times. Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  13. ^ The White Stripes official website, index to album artwork including covers, page 1 of 3. Page retrieved June 21, 2007.
  14. ^ a b "Reviews for Elephant by The White Stripes". Metacritic. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  15. ^ Brunner, Rob (March 31, 2003). "Elephant". Entertainment Weekly (703). ISSN 1049-0434. Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  16. ^ Petridis, Alexis (March 28, 2003). "The White Stripes: Elephant". The Guardian. London. ISSN 0261-3077. OCLC 60623878. Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  17. ^ Hilburn, Robert (March 30, 2003). "Sitting atop rock's new wave". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 26, 2015. 
  18. ^ a b Mulvey, John. "Elephant". NME. Archived from the original on March 16, 2003. Retrieved November 26, 2015. 
  19. ^ DiCrescenzo, Brent (April 1, 2003). "The White Stripes: Elephant". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  20. ^ "The White Stripes: Elephant". Q (201): 98. April 2003. 
  21. ^ a b Fricke, David (March 25, 2003). "Elephant". Rolling Stone. ISSN 0035-791X. Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  22. ^ Klosterman, Chuck (May 2003). "White Hot". Spin. 19 (5): 107–08. ISSN 0886-3032. Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  23. ^ "The White Stripes: Elephant". Uncut (72): 94. May 2003. 
  24. ^ Byline unknown (May 2003), "Elephant". Uncut. volume unknown: 94
  25. ^ Alves, Tim (April 4, 2003). The White Stripes: Elephant" PopMatters.com. Retrieved September 11, 2007.
  26. ^ Ali, Lorraine (April 14, 2003), "The Second Coming". Newsweek. 141 (15):57
  27. ^ "CG: the white stripes". RobertChristgau.com. Retrieved April 2, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Expert Witness: Jack White/The White Stripes". social.entertainment.msn.com. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  29. ^ Katchen, Andrew. "White Stripes Stay Pure On 'Elephant'". Billboard. Retrieved March 31, 2014. 
  30. ^ "White Stripes Elephant Album Review". Rolling Stone. 
  31. ^ (2003). 100 Greatest Albums. Channel 4. Retrieved September 11, 2007
  32. ^ "100 Best Albums of the 2000s". rollingstone.com. July 18, 2011. Retrieved June 24, 2016. 
  33. ^ Robert Dimery; Michael Lydon (March 23, 2010). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Universe. ISBN 978-0-7893-2074-2. 
  34. ^ aCharts.us Elephant chart positions Retrieved on April 14, 2014.
  35. ^ a b "The White Stripes: Charts and Awards". Billboard. Retrieved January 17, 2008. 
  36. ^ "The White Stripes - Elephant (Album)" (in Dutch). Retrieved April 14, 2014. 
  37. ^ a b c French sales and certification FanOfMusic.Free.fr "Retrieved on November 3, 2007.
  38. ^ "Chartverfolgung / WHITE STRIPES,THE / Longplay" [Chart Tracking / WHITE STRIPES, THE / Long Play] (in German). musicline.de. Retrieved September 24, 2011. 
  39. ^ "2003 Top 40 Official Albums Chart UK Archive 12th April 2003". Retrieved April 1, 2014. 
  40. ^ Australia. "ARIA Charts — Accreditations — 2003 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved January 17, 2008. 
  41. ^ Canada. "CRIA". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved January 17, 2008. 
  42. ^ Europe. Europe IFPI Platinum Awards IFPI. Retrieved on December 2007
  43. ^ Germany. IFPI Retrieved on January 18, 2008
  44. ^ "Dutch Certification (IFPI)". IFPI. Retrieved January 17, 2008. 
  45. ^ New Zealand. "RIANZ". Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved January 17, 2008. 
  46. ^ Sweden. "IFPI". IFPI. Archived from the original on October 20, 2007. Retrieved January 17, 2008. 
  47. ^ United Kingdom. "BPI". British Phonographic Industry. Archived from the original on December 30, 2007. Retrieved January 17, 2008. 
  48. ^ United States. RIAA Recording Industry Association of America.
  49. ^ Billboard editors. Coldplay Earns First Billboard 200 No. 1 Billboard magazine Retrieved on January 17, 2008

External links[edit]