The Raconteurs are the side band for songwriters Jack White (of the White Stripes
) and Brendan Benson (a solo artist). The band’s sound touches on garage-rock and blues while primarily embracing classic-rock radio acts like Led Zeppelin
. Like many side projects, the Raconteurs suffer a little in that the band’s albums feel more like enjoyable larks rather than focused artistic statements. (White and Benson seem to save their very best material for their own records.) Still, the Raconteurs allow these two men to explore beyond their usual musical milieus.
The Raconteurs formed in 2004 through unusual circumstances. Detroit friends Jack White and Brendan Benson collaborated on a song called “Steady, As She Goes,” which would later become the group’s first single. Inspired by what they had come up with, the two men started working on more material, eventually recruiting drummer Patrick Keeler and bassist Jack Lawrence, the rhythm section of the band the Greenhornes. Naming themselves the Raconteurs, the quartet set about recording their first album.
'Broken Boy Soldiers':
Broken Boy Soldiers debuted in 2006. Initially, the Raconteurs’ audience was White Stripes fans who wanted to hear more music from Jack White, but as White had suggested, Broken Boy Soldiers didn’t feel like a White Stripes album. Instead, the album reflected a melding of White’s blues influences with Benson’s interest in British rock and power-pop. The two men wrote the songs together, with each of them taking lead vocals. Though Broken Boy Soldiers didn’t have the raw immediacy of the White Stripes or the gorgeous wistfulness of Benson’s work, the album’s loose, unpretentious rock was enormously appealing.
'Consolers of the Lonely':
After the Raconteurs toured to support Broken Boy Soldiers
, the assumption of most fans was that this would be the end of this side project. But in 2008, the band returned with Consolers of the Lonely
. If the novelty of the endeavor had worn off a little, the Raconteurs compensated by delivering a more eclectic collection the second time around. Much in the spirit of Bob Dylan and the Band’s rollicking Basement Tapes
recordings of the 1960s, Consolers
dives deep into American music in all its forms, and its relaxed confidence makes it a worthy addition to the oeuvre of these two very different songwriters.
The Raconteurs Lineup:
Brendan Benson – vocals, guitar, keyboards
Patrick Keeler – drums
Jack Lawrence – bass
Jack White – vocals, guitar, keyboards
Key Raconteurs Songs:
“Steady, As She Goes” (Purchase/Download
“Salute Your Solution” (Purchase/Download
“Old Enough” (Purchase/Download
Broken Boy Soldiers
Consolers of the Lonely
Brendan Benson, on his first encounter with Jack White.
“I remember meeting Jack for the first time and thinking he was very strange – in the best possible way.” (Rolling Stone, April 21, 2006)
Jack White, on the differences between the White Stripes and the Raconteurs.
“When [the Raconteurs] started working, I knew I didn’t want it to sound anything like the White Stripes. The easy way was to say it’s not going to have any of the constrictions that the White Stripes have. We were gonna take all that boxing-in away.” (Uncut, 2006)
Jack White, on writing with another person.
“Dual songwriting is something I always wanted to do, and never have. And I couldn’t think of anyone better to do it with. We were building off each other so much and pushing off each other so much, really nurturing all the way, and I love that.” (The Guardian, April 7 2006)
- In Australia, the band is known as the Saboteurs because there already is a band there known as Raconteurs.
- Jack White had first worked with Patrick Keeler and Jack Lawrence when he was producing Loretta Lynn’s 2004 comeback record Van Leer Rose.
- The group’s name came about after Jack White saw the word “raconteur” in an article about 60 Minutes journalist Mike Wallace.
- “Raconteur” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a person who excels in telling anecdotes.”