The Dead Weather is what the music industry calls a “supergroup,” but to me “supergroup” is an odd title. It just means that people from different bands have come together to form a new band, and there’s no reason this shouldn’t happen more often, no artist should be pigeonholed into only working with the couple of people in one band. But to whether or not I consider The Dead Weather a “supergroup,” it’s not like reading that Stevie Wonder, The Roots, John Legend and Thundercat came together for a record, because that hypothetical would be a real “supergroup.” Not to discredit the careers of the members of The Dead Weather, bit it seems like the music media calls any project of which an artist isn’t with their original lineup a “side-project” or a “supergroup,” but these artists don’t look at it as a “supergroup,” and especially not as a “side-project,” they’re all as important to them as the work they make with their own band.
When Jack White (of The White Stripes & Third Man fame) got together with songwriter, Benjamin Bensen, to write “Steady As She Goes,” later forming The Raconteurs, they were also dubbed a “super group,” to which they aptly responded that they were not a “super group,” because the “term implies something pre-planned or temporary,” whereas they were actually “a new band made up of old friends.”
When the Raconteurs were playing a show in Memphis, Tennessee, White had lost his voice, and Alison Mosshart, of their opener, The Kills, agreed to fill in for a couple of the songs, one of them being “Steady As She Goes.” Loving Mosshart’s vocals, White and Jack Lawrence (The Raconteurs bassist, as well as the bassist for City & Colour), asked her to come to the studio and do a song with them. Jack White at the time had recently gotten back into playing drums, something he had done in bands previous to The White Stripes and The Raconteurs, and had just done for the song “Another Way to Die” with Alicia Keys, the theme for the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace.
White had gotten back into drumming because he felt that playing lead guitar for every project would be too redundant and he saw it as an opportunity to do something different. Lucky for him, he can play drums pretty damn well too. So with White on drums, Mosshart on lead vocals, Lawrence on bass, and Dave Fertita (The Raconteurs guitarist, and Queens of the Stone Age guitar/keyboardist), the four ended up recording an entire album, and having come back together three times now, released Dodge and Burn just last month.
With Jack White’s solo material kind of experimental and all over the place, really only, in my opinion, containing two or three great songs per record, notably Blunderbuss’ “Sixteen Saltines,” and the title track off Lazaretto, it seems that his work is most celebrated when he has a band that might rope him in, honestly speaking, he’s better as part of a group.
Nonetheless, White’s presence and impression on Mosshart and the rest of the group is undeniably active and the driving force of The Dead Weather. Hell, Mosshart even sounds like him. White’s influence on The Dead Weather pokes in, if not dominates, most of the record, from the guitar licks to the hard hitting drums to the ridiculous insensible lyrics like, “What does the black top know that I have not cracked with my mind.” White’s mesh with Mosshart seems to be a perfect meet-up.
The record starts to lose me a bit towards the end of the record, and I keep going back and forth on “Impossible Winner,” which is incredibly out of place with the rest of the album, though simultaneously has the making of a great 80’s anthem. But with guitar riffs like “I Feel Love,” “Buzzkill(er),” and “Lose the Right,” any fan of White’s or The Dead Weather’s will find exactly what they’d expect from Dodge and Burn.