Icky Thump is the sixth and final studio album by US alternative rock band The White Stripes. It was released June 15, 2007 in Germany,[1] June 18, 2007 in the rest of Europe, and June 19, 2007 in the rest of the world.[2] It was the band's only album on Warner Bros. Records.

Icky Thump entered the UK Albums Chart at number one[3] and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 with 223,000 copies sold.[3][4] By late July, Icky Thump was certified gold in the United States. As of March 8, 2008, the album has sold 725,125 copies in the US. On February 10, 2008, the album won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album.


 [hide*1 Recording and production

Recording and production[edit]Edit

After Get Behind Me Satan,[5] Icky Thump marks a return to the punkgarage rock and blues influences for which the band is known. Additionally, the album introduces Scottish folk musicavant-gardetrumpet, and bagpipes into the formula, whilst simultaneously reintroducing older characteristics such as the first studio recording of the early White Stripes song "Little Cream Soda".

Icky Thump was recorded and mixed entirely in analog at Nashville's Blackbird Studio by Joe Chiccarelli.[6] According to Chiccarelli in an interview with HitQuarters, the band had already rehearsed and demoed around half the album, with the rest being conceived in the studio.[7] The album took almost three weeks to record—the longest of any White Stripes album.[2] The recording differed from previous albums in that White had the comparative luxury of recording to 16-track analog rather than his usual 8-track.[7] Also, Chiccarelli said: "We spent a little more time than he is used to experimenting and trying different things on that album, whether it was different ways to record the drums or the vocals, or different arrangements, or cutting takes together.".[7] Trumpet player Regulo Aldama, who appears on "Conquest", was discovered by Jack White at a local Mexican restaurant.

Jack White said that the album would appeal to fans of the band's self-titled debut, suggesting a stripped-down garage rock sound. A statement on the band's official website (spuriously attributed to "Kitayna Ireyna Tatanya Kerenska Alisof" of the "Moscow Bugle", a reference to the 1966 Batman film) humorously claims that:

The White Stripes have completed the recording and mixing of their sixth album. It is entitled Icky Thump, and is their first album to include a title track, which curiously (and not ironically) has the same words in it's [sic] name. Though some residents of northern England might almost recognize the title, the Stripes stress they are spelling it wrong intentionally just for "kicks" and "metaphors," and to avoid a possible lawsuit from the estate of Billy Eckstine.

A video of The Stripes in the studio working on the album can also be found at their site, although the aforementioned statement has this to say about the song: "The actual music has been replaced with mid eighties sampling keyboard technology to prevent what industry analysts are now calling 'song poaching.'"

Entertainment Weekly's online site had an interview with Michel Gondry in which he said he would be directing a video for "I'm Slowly Turning Into You".[8] He mentions the idea for the video. Gondry also says that the video idea came first, and after mentioning the idea to Jack White, White wrote the song to fit that idea.

Several tracks from the album were leaked, and on May 30, 2007, Chicago radio station Q101 aired the entire album without the band's permission. Jack called into the station and reacted angrily about them playing it.[9] There is speculation that the label supplied the album to the station in order to promote its release.[10] In the liner notes of Icky Thump, "Electra" is thanked on the second line, just after God. According to Ben Blackwell, Jack White's nephew, this is not directed towards the radio DJ, Electra, but to a pet Jack and Meg White used to have.

The White Stripes announced the completion of Icky Thump on February 28, 2007. The title is derived from "ecky thump", a Lancashire colloquial response of surprise, popularized by an episode of the 1970s UK comedy series The Goodies. On Later with Jools Holland (broadcast June 1, 2007) Jack attributed the album's name to its use as an exclamation by his wife, who is from Lancashire. He added that the deliberate misspelling was to make it easier for an American audience to identify with.[11]The liner notes for Icky Thump also suggest the spelling variation was due to concerns over copyright infringement.

The Pearly Kings and Queens costume theme that the band used for this album is a traditional Cockney outfit, somewhat contrary to the Northern dialect of the title.


Like all White Stripes albums, there is a central yet loose theme to the songs and album. Jack White told Blender in July 2007 that "[Icky Thump] is about feeling positive about being alive, taking deep breaths and just being really happy."

Promotion and release[edit]Edit

The album artwork features Jack and Meg dressed as Pearlies.

To promote Icky Thump before its release, the band distributed custom-designed boxes and previewed tracks from the record through Ice Cream Man. The ice cream promotion focused on the Coachella,[12] Sasquatch, and Bonnaroo festivals and culminated in the band's release show on June 20, 2007 at the site of the former West Hollywood Tower Records on Sunset Blvd., temporarily rechristened Icky Thump. Records[13][14]

[1]The USB drive album artwork forIcky Thump, stylized illustrations of Jack (left), and Meg (right). The hats are the covers to the drives.[15]

In addition to being released on CD and 180 gram vinyl, the band released the album on a limited edition 512 MB USB drive.[16]There are two versions, one of which depicts Jack, the other depicting Meg. The pressing was limited to 3,333 of each,[16] and were shipped the week of the U.S. release. Each drive contained the album in Apple lossless format.

The 180g vinyl edition contains alternate versions of both "Icky Thump" and "Rag and Bone". "Icky Thump" is a slightly different mix to the digital version and is also edited to be 14 seconds shorter. "Rag and Bone" is also a different mix but in addition contains totally different vocals for each verse (possibly the original guide vocals and there are no vocals from Meg) and is missing the harmonies from the last chorus.

The sound quality of the digital versions has been criticized for being mastered too loudly and with excessive peak limiting. Critics claim this results in clipping or "digital distortion" which can be heard as crackling, particularly during bass drum hits. The vinyl version was mastered by Steve Hoffman.[6] A special mono mix of Icky Thump was available on 180 gram vinyl for a short time to Third Man Vault Premium Account subscribers.


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 80/100[17]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic [18]
The A.V. Club A−[19]
Blender [20]
Entertainment Weekly A[21]
NME 9/10[22]
Pitchfork Media 8/10[23]
Rolling Stone [24]
Stylus B[25]
Uncut [26]
Slant Magazine [27]

The album received very positive reviews, with an overall average rating of 80/100 at Metacritic.[17] Barry Nicolson with British magazine NME wrote, "Icky Thump is brilliant, there's no way around that."[22] Commenting on the album's "fuller sound and relaxed flights of fancy," Heather Phares, with AMG, said "Icky Thump is a mature, but far from stodgy" album, and that "it's just great fun to hear the band play."[18] Jon Dolon, a critic for Blender magazine, remarked "It's the sound of a band not stretching out so much as digging in: burrowing deeper into loamy soil they know well."[28] In one of the more negative reviews, Josh Tyrangiel with TIME magazine remarked, "The White Stripes are too weird and talented to be boring, but it sounds like they might be a little bored."[29] Ultimately giving the album 3.5 out of 5 stars and giving an (A-) on his website,[30] Robert Christgau, with Rolling Stone, summed up the return album this way "Although the new constructions don't entice as consistently as they should, their noise stays with you. And what that noise stands for is itself." He added, "Like his sometime heroes Led Zeppelin, Jack White builds monuments. They're suitable for awestruck visits. But they're no place to settle down."[24]

On December 6, 2007, Icky Thump was nominated for four 2007 Grammy Awards: Best Alternative Album, Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package, Best Rock Song, and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for the single "Icky Thump", winning Best Alternative Album and Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal. Q Magazine named Icky Thump as the 2nd best album of 2007. Furthermore, the album placed #17 on Rolling Stone's list of the Top 50 Albums of 2007.[31]

Track listing[edit]Edit

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

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Icky Thump"   4:17
2. "You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do as You're Told)"   3:54
3. "300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues"   J. White, Meg White 5:28
4. "Conquest"   Corky Robins 2:48
5. "Bone Broke"   3:14
6. "Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn"   3:05
7. "St. Andrew (This Battle Is in the Air)"   1:49
8. "Little Cream Soda"   3:45
9. "Rag and Bone"   3:48
10. "I'm Slowly Turning Into You"   4:34
11. "A Martyr for My Love for You"   4:19
12. "Catch Hell Blues"   4:18
13. "Effect and Cause"   3:00
iTunes Edition
No. Title Writer(s) Length
14. "Baby Brother" (also on the Japanese edition) Vern Orr 2:10
15. "Tennessee Border (Live)"   Hank Williams 2:09


The White Stripes
Additional personnel
  • Regulo Aldama – trumpet on "Conquest"
  • Jim Drury – bagpipes on "Prickly Thorn, But Sweetly Worn" and "St. Andrew"
  • Steve Hoffman – vinyl mastering
  • Vlado Meller – digital mastering
  • Joe Chiccarelli - Recording and Mixing engineer
  • Lowell Reynolds - Recording and Mixing second engineer

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