Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 5

I received the fifth pair of exclusive vinyl items offered to platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service. For those who are unaware, Third Man Records is the label owned by Jack White, the leader of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, and the Dead Weather. The Vault service promises to deliver exclusive vinyl-only records (one full-length album and one 7” single) to its platinum members every three months. According to the postmark, my package was sent on September 24th. I received it on the 27th.

This fifth set of items revolves around a live show performed by the Dead Weather at Third Man’s custom-designed studio on May 3rd, 2010. It consists of a live LP on which the band performs their entire 2010 album Sea of Cowards, pressed on split-colored black-and-blue vinyl, as well as a single featuring the two encores from that concert. Also, the package contains a DVD of the entire filmed concert. Each of these three items is packaged in a reflective jacket.

The concert is excellent. The performances of the songs are faithful to the studio versions and are reproduced amazingly well in this live-in-the-studio setting. Where live albums by the White Stripes and the Raconteurs from previous Vault packages had sound quality that was just one notch above bootleg-level muddiness, Sea of Cowards Live has pristine sound of the sort that you would expect to hear on a commercial release. The songs don’t lose anything in this setting: the dark atmosphere, the echo effects, the spacey and fuzzy elements of the Dead Weather’s sound -- they all come through loud and clear. The instrumentation (Jack White on drums, Jack Lawrence on bass, Dean Fertita on guitar and organ) is nearly as flawless as it could have been, and Alison Mosshart’s vocals often have more direct power than they do on the album, especially on “The Difference Between Us” and “Gasoline”. Anyone who loves the Sea of Cowards album will have a field day with this package, and it makes a strong case for Third Man’s custom-built studio.

The vinyl LP’s sound quality does not seem to have been affected by the split-color pressing, probably because the approximate 40-minute length of the 11-song set fits well for this medium. If it’s not my imagination, the six songs on Side Two sound a bit more distant than the five on Side One. No matter.

The 7” single included with the package contains the two encores from the concert. Those two songs were “Hang You From the Heavens” and “I Cut Like A Buffalo” from the band’s 2009 debut album Horehound. These two performances are also faithful to the original versions, and sound just slightly different than they did on Horehound. This is probably due mainly to the change in setting, but it also may have something to do with the band becoming tighter over the course of one year. Whatever the reason, both encores sound good.

The DVD presents the concert in crisp black-and-white, which is suitable for the dark nature of the Dead Weather’s music. The disc provides a welcome glimpse at the specially designed studio for those of us who haven’t been able to visit Nashville recently. Mosshart’s manic stage persona is something to see, as is White in his dual role as a performer and as the master of ceremonies. The only disappointment is that the show’s two encores are not included on the DVD. But if you own the 7” single that came with this package, that’s no big deal.

Another note for fellow vinyl aficionados: the forgotten practice of engraving text in the dead wax, or runout grooves between the sticker and the last track’s grooves, is once again evident on these items. Side A of the single has the word “encore” carved in the dead wax; Side B has “Do you want more?” etched. The LP has the following messages etched in the runout grooves: “It’s tingling…Do you know what that means?”, and “It means it’s working…to hell with the show this is science!”.

The reflective jackets that each of these three items are packaged in are attractive, although time will tell how durable they are. My LP jacket is already beginning to show signs of splitting along the top edge, probably because the disc itself barely fits in the inner sleeve, which in turn barely fits in the gatefold jacket…grumble, grumble.


The Dead Weather “Sea of Cowards Live at Third Man Records” (Third Man TMR 040) 2010

Track Listing:

1. Blue Blood Blues
2. Hustle and Cuss
3. The Difference Between Us
4. I’m Mad
5. Die By The Drop
6. I Can’t Hear You
7. Gasoline
8. No Horse
9. Looking at the Invisible Man
10. Jawbreaker
11. Old Mary


The Dead Weather “Hang You From the Heavens” (live at Third Man Records) b/w “I Cut Like a Buffalo” (live at Third Man Records) (Third Man single TMR 041) 2010

Track Listing:

a. Hang You From the Heavens (live at Third Man Records)
b. I Cut Like a Buffalo (live at Third Man Records)


The Dead Weather: Sea of Cowards Live at Third Man Records DVD (Third Man DVD TMR 043) 2010

Track Listing:

1. Blue Blood Blues
2. Hustle and Cuss
3. The Difference Between Us
4. I’m Mad
5. Die By The Drop
6. I Can’t Hear You
7. Gasoline
8. No Horse
9. Looking at the Invisible Man
10. Jawbreaker
11. Old Mary

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