TRWS75 wrote:I think you have to rate the Stripes against their contemporaries first, then go bigger picture.
That's a good point. (Keeping in mind that this is all subjective at this point in history. In a few decades there may be more of a critical consensus on the lasting influence of Jack White and/or TWS.) It might also help to limit the question with regard to genre. Even though Jack White has explored a number of genres with TWS and his other bands, all of his bands are regarded mainly as rock bands; and rock music today is just not as dominant as it was in decades previous.
Personally, I'd say that The White Stripes are hands-down the best rock band of the new millennium. (At least, the best among those rock bands that are widely known.) And I would personally put The Raconteurs in maybe the top ten or twenty. There is so much insipid dreck on the radio today that's being mislabeled as "rock" that it makes me want to cry. But if you go back to the 60's and 70's, there were just an amazing number of really great bands churning out timeless rock music. On my own personal list of all-time favorite bands, TWS are still at the top. But on my list of "bands that I think put out great rock music" they would be somewhat lower, but maybe still in the top ten. (The reason for the difference is that the way fans feel about a band often goes beyond just the music.)
I see it as three somewhat different questions, actually: first, what are your personal favorite bands; and then, which bands put out the best rock music in some given era; and finally, which bands made the biggest impact on rock music in the long run. Personally, I think the Rolling Stones made some of the best rock around; and they did it for a helluva long time. But despite that, they're not one of my favorite bands. The Beatles had a bigger impact on the history of rock music than almost anyone; but personally I think of them more as pop than rock, and I like the music of the Rolling Stones and several other bands better than the Beatles. But there are sentimental reasons to be fond of the Beatles, that go beyond either their music or their influence. (Much like with The White Stripes; there's an undeniable charm and enchantment there that manages to transcend even the great music. Although the music is an essential component of their magic, it's not the whole of it.) It's not always easy to disentangle those various strands of thoughts and feelings and reasons why we hold some particular musician or band in high esteem.