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Elephant:The White Stripes

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Elephant is the fourth album by the Detroit American alternative rock duo The White Stripes. Released on April 1, 2003 onV2 Records, its release garnered extensive 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 6 in the USBillboard 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]


 [hide*1 Background and production

Background and production[edit]Edit


Elephant is the White Stripes' fourth full album and the second to be released by V2 Records.[4] Jack 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".[5] It was recorded over two weeks in April 2002 in London's Toe Rag Studios except for the song "I Just Don't Know What to Do With Myself", which was recorded at BBC Maida Vale studio. The song "Well It's True That We Love One Another" was recorded in November 2001 at Toe Rag studio. Jack White produced the album with antiquated equipment, including an eight-track tape machine and pre-1960s recording gear.[6] As stated in the liner notes, White deliberately refrained from using computers during Elephant's writing, recording, or production.

The special edition 2013 Record Store Day reissue was pressed at United Record Pressing in Nashville, TN.[7]

The White Stripes set their own rules while they were recording this album: ten days in a non modern studio. 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.[8] The Elephant album is said to be a combination of punk rock, blues-rock, and rock 'n' roll. 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.[9]


The album is a loose concept album, dealing with the "death of the sweetheart" in American culture.[10] 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.[9] Like other White Stripes records, the cover art and liner notes are exclusively in red, white, and black, and there is a song with "little" in the title.

Cover art[edit]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.[11] 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 release has 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!'"


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 92/100[12]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [1]
Entertainment Weekly [13]
The Guardian [14]
Mojo [15]
NME 9/10[15]
Pitchfork Media 6.9/10[16]
Q [15]
Spin [17]
Rolling Stone [18]
Uncut [15]

Upon its release, Elephant received widespread acclaim from music critics. The White Stripes were gaining momentum with their previous three albums and were generally lauded in critical circles. Many critics hailed it as one of the defining events of the 2000s garage rock revival.[6] 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."[19] 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"[18] 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."[15] 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."[20] The album enjoys a Metacritic rating of 92.[21] 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."[22] Robert Christgau gave the album a three-star honorable mention () upon release,[23] but later claimed that he had initially underrated it, and gave it a new grade of A minus.[24]

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.[25] In December 2003, NME made it their Album of the Year. Recently,[when?] Rolling Stone called Elephant the 5th best album of the decade, and Seven Nation Army the 6th best song of the decade.

Track listing[edit]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 BacharachHal 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


The White Stripes
Guest personnel
  • Mort Crim – speech on "Little Acorns"
  • Holly Golightly – co-lead vocals on "Well It's True That We Love One Another"
Additional personnel

Chart history and certification[edit]Edit

Chart (2006)[26] Peak


Australian ARIA Albums Chart 4
Belgian Albums Chart 3
Canadian Albums Chart[27] 5
Dutch Albums Chart[28] 24
French Albums Chart[29] 3
German Albums Chart[30] 27
Irish Albums Chart 1
New Zealand RIANZ Albums Chart 2
Norwegian Albums Chart 1
Swedish Albums Chart 1
UK Albums Chart[31] 1
U.S. Billboard 200[27] 6
Country Provider(s) Certification Sales/shipments
Australia[32] ARIA Platinum 70,000+
Canada[33] CRIA 2× Platinum 200,000+
Europe[34] IFPI Platinum 2,000,000+
France[29] SNEP/IFOP n/a 300,000+[29]
Germany[35] IFPI Gold 100,000+
Netherlands[36] NVPI Gold 35,000+
New Zealand[37] RIANZ Platinum 15,000+
Sweden[38] IFPI Gold 300,000+
UK[39] BPI 2× Platinum 600,000+
U.S.[40] RIAA Platinum 1,900,000+[41]
Single information
"Seven Nation Army"
  • Released: May 13, 2003
  • Chart positions:
  1. 7 (UK Singles Chart)
  2. 76 (U.S. Billboard Hot 100)
  3. 1 (U.S. Modern Rock Tracks)
  4. 12 (U.S. Mainstream Rock Tracks)
"I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself"
  • Released: September 2003
  • Chart positions:
  1. 13 (UK Singles Chart)
  2. 25 (U.S. Modern Rock Tracks)
"The Hardest Button to Button"
  • Released: December 9, 2003
  • Chart positions:
  1. 23 (UK Singles Chart)
  2. 8 (U.S. Modern Rock Tracks)
"There's No Home for You Here"
  • Released: 2004
  • Chart positions:
    • none
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 byColdplay

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