When Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White appeared together at the Toronto International Film Festival recently it was meant to represent three generations of guitarist coming together as a lineage.
[rssbreak] The axe-wielding trio is featured in David Guggenheim's new documentary It Might Get Loud, which tells the stories of how each player developed their sound and style. Page, being the white-haired, sage-like godfather, represents rock guitar's roots, while Edge is positioned as an 80s maverick known for unique rhythms and note textures, rather than, say, face-melting solos.
That leaves White as the modern day successor, the younger generation's figurehead of guitar rock; the heir apparent, according to the way the film was marketed at TIFF. But there's something wrong with the correlations being made between the three.
Yes, the British classic rock elite appear to have deemed White their prodigal son. The Rolling Stones invited White to be part of their recent Martin Scorsese vanity project Shine a Light and he's also worked with Pete Townsend, both of which elevated his status high among the English, a market where the White Stripes first discovered fame.
White is a lover of American blues, the form of music Keith Richards, Page and Townsend are all criminally indebted to, so it does make sense for Page and White to stand together as connected dots, even if it's debatable whether White has earned such recognition.
That leaves the Edge as the incongruous of three with seemingly little in common with Page and White's high-octane blues rock. Throughout his career Edge has explored the sonic limitations of making notes sound like chords. To my recollection the man has never played a solo in his life, but the notes that open Sunday Bloody Sunday [YouTube] are as endurable as the heaviest of Page's proto-metal riffs.
Edge is an innovator, along with Page, which then leaves a question mark on White's head - what exactly are White's guitar trademarks? He's often credited with reviving guitar rock from its radio-pop slumber, along with the Strokes, etc. White's also been able to overcome the absence of bass most impressively, making his guitar a third member of the Stripes.
Perhaps Guggenheim should have added another guitarist to his film? Tom Morello, Rivers Cuomo or Johnny Greenwood are names that immediately conjure innovation and guitar excellence for the newer generation.
One thing's for sure, White has a lot of music ahead of him so it's a little early to judge his career; just as it's too early to vault him up with Gods of Rock.