Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 12

Last week I received the twelfth set 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, who is the leader of the White Stripes, the Raconteurs, and the Dead Weather, and is now a solo artist as well. 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 August 7th. I received it on the 9th.

This twelfth set of items consists of a live LP by Karen Elson (formerly Mrs. Jack White) recorded at Third Man Records, a 7” single containing two outtakes from the Raconteurs’ 2008 album Consolers Of The Lonely, and a DVD documenting two different New Zealand live shows from the White Stripes.

The Raconteurs single consists of two tracks recorded for but omitted from Consolers Of The Lonely. Both songs were written by Brendan Benson and Jack White, were sung by Benson, and have since been re-recorded by Benson as solo tracks. Both songs are enjoyably poppy, although it’s hard to determine if they would have fit in well on the album, or if they should have displaced any of the songs that did make it onto the album. The A-side, “Open Your Eyes”, is an up-tempo tune that is reminiscent of the Monkees. It was re-recorded as “Here In The Deadlights” for Benson’s recent album What Kind of World. The Raconteurs version on this single is the better one; it has less polish, but more zest. The B-side, “You Made a Fool Out of Me”, resembles a radio ballad from the ‘70’s. It was re-recorded for Benson’s 2009 album My Old Familiar Friend, as “You Make a Fool Out of Me”. The Raconteurs version sounds like a work-in-progress demo, with lots of scat singing; Benson’s solo version sounds like the finished product.

The Karen Elson LP Live At Third Man Records, pressed in split-colored black-and-peach vinyl, was recorded at the Third Man studio on May 24th, 2010, at the release party for her debut studio album The Ghost Who Walks. Elson and her five-piece backing band perform 10 of the album’s 12 songs, along with a pretty cover of Jackson C. Frank’s “Milk and Honey”. The live versions of these country- and folk-flavored songs are quite faithful to the studio versions, inevitably losing some of their moody atmosphere, but making up for it with a warmer and more organic feeling. Live at Third Man Records is a pleasing accessory for fans of The Ghost Who Walks. The only disappointment: the title track from that album is missing, even though its lyrics are printed on the back cover. Elson did perform the song at this event as an encore, in a solo acoustic rendition. The time constraints of the vinyl LP format undoubtedly made this omission necessary.

The album sleeve design for the Elson live LP is clever. Elson’s image on the front cover is die-cut in the shape of a very long dress, and the album comes with an insert (a la Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti) that makes it possible to select any of at least eight dress designs for the cover picture. Also, it encourages owners of the album to be creative by creating their own dress designs for the picture. Scans that are e-mailed to Third Man are displayed on this web page. Peachy keen!

The smartly assembled DVD Under New Zealand Lights contains live footage from two White Stripes shows performed in Auckland, New Zealand, one from 2000 and one from 2003. The 2000 set was performed at the Kings Arms Tavern in November of that year. For such a fairly early show, it has quite a varied set list; it even includes “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself”, which the duo did not release on a studio album until ’03. The Stripes do a fine job of packing 15 no-nonsense blues-rock numbers into about 42 minutes of stage time. The sound and video quality is surprisingly good, not far below the level of a commercial music DVD. The 2003 set was performed at the Freeman’s Bay Primary School in October of that year, and has more bootleg-ish quality. Playing before a crowd of schoolchildren, the duo tones it down a notch for these seven songs, giving respectful treatment to most of them. In between songs, Jack educates the youngsters about blues covers, slide guitar technique, and how drugs and bullying are not cool. Sweet.

A 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 evident on these items. The A-side of the single has “Early runt reg john” carved in the dead wax; the B-side has “Who is more fool?” carved. Side One of the LP has “Konk in attendance” etched in the runout grooves; Side Two has “Sans which spectre?” carved.


The Raconteurs “Open Your Eyes” b/w “You Made a Fool Out of Me” (Third Man single TMR148) 2012

Track Listing:

a. Open Your Eyes
b. You Made a Fool Out of Me


Karen Elson “Live At Third Man Records” (Third Man TMR149) 2012

Track Listing:

1. Pretty Babies
2. The Truth is in the Dirt
3. The Birds They Circle
4. A Hundred Years From Now
5. Milk and Honey
6. A Thief at My Door
7. Lunasa
8. Cruel Summer
9. Stolen Roses
10. The Last Laugh
11. Mouths To Feed


The White Stripes “Under New Zealand Lights” (Third Man DVD TMR150) 2012

Live at:

THE KINGS ARMS 2000

1. You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)
2. Hello Operator
3. Truth Doesn’t Make a Noise
4. Your Southern Can is Mine
5. Sugar Never Tasted So Good
6. Stop Breaking Down
7. Little Bird
8. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
9. Cannon / Wasting My Time
10. I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself
11. Jolene
12. Apple Blossom
13. Astro / Jack The Ripper
14. The Big Three Killed My Baby
15. Look Me Over Closely

FREEMAN’S BAY PRIMARY SCHOOL 2003

1. Death Letter
2. Grinnin’ In Your Face
3. We Are Going To Be Friends
4. Hotel Yorba
5. St. James Infirmary
6. Little Room
7. Boll Weevil

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