Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 18

Last week I received the eighteenth 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 postal service, my package was sent on December 4th. I received it on the 10th.

This eighteenth set of items includes a live double-LP by the Raconteurs, a DVD documenting the same performance, and a 7-inch single containing two new studio tracks from the Dead Weather.

In a departure from past Vault singles, the Dead Weather single (pressed in “yellow jacket” vinyl) contains two brand new, fully developed studio cuts. The quartet plans to record a series of exclusive two-sided singles until 2015, when all of the tracks will be included on their next full-length album. The two songs on this single are both satisfying slices of the Dead Weather’s brand of dark, fuzz-drenched hard rock. The A-side “Open Up” is propelled by punchy riffs, giving Alison Mosshart (billed as “Baby Ruthless” on the sleeve) a sturdy foundation over which to sing the odd lyrics. The B-side “Rough Detective” is actually the better track; it’s a unique, complex swirl of aggressive noise, something like a Queens Of The Stone Age jam that’s been diced apart by Dean Fertita and pieced back together in a surreal fashion, with White and Mosshart sharing the lead vocal duties. This is a song that only the Dead Weather could have concocted with their individual personalities put together.

The Raconteurs double-LP Live at the Ryman Auditorium (pressed on one “rawhide and tobacco” colored record and one “gold and oil swirled” record) documents a September 2011 concert at the Nashville venue. This is the third live Raconteurs album issued through the Vault, which means that the band’s live Vault releases now outnumber their studio albums. This one has crisper sound quality than the previous two: Live In London from 2009 had noticeably muddy audio quality, while Live At Third Man Records from 2011 was purposefully recorded to analog tape. On Live at the Ryman Auditorium, the band are in good form as you would expect, performing 13 songs from their two studio albums without a single disappointing moment. Still, it is debatable (at least to long-time Vault subscribers) whether or not we need another live album from a band who have only two studio albums to draw material from. Two of the high points are “Top Yourself” and “Blue Veins”, where the Racs deliver strong Led Zep-like blues-rock jams – but I’ve had that same basic story to tell about all of their live Vault albums so far. Support from Dean Fertita on keyboards helps to make “Level” and “Intimate Secretary” sound fresh; a tasteful three-piece Nashville horn section gives extra class to “Many Shades of Black” and “The Switch and the Spur”. If you don’t own either of the other aforementioned Raconteurs live albums and only intend to obtain one of their Vault albums, then Live at the Ryman Auditorium is the most polished one of the three; it is the easiest one to imagine as a proper commercial release.

The DVD is the item that makes this package special, presenting that same Raconteurs concert to better effect. Seeing the band perform this set helps to create more excitement, making the viewer feel more involved in the event. Watching the band members interact, with clear chemistry and camaraderie, makes the set more fun and more illuminating. It’s particularly riveting to watch their extended blues jam during “Top Yourself”; the visual medium also draws more attention to the horn arrangements on “Many Shades of Black” and “The Switch and the Spur”.

A note for fellow vinyl aficionados: the forgotten practice of engraving text in the dead wax, or the runout grooves between the sticker and the last track’s grooves, is present on these items. The A-side of the single has “That’s Too Much” and “GEO @ 3rd Man Live” carved in the dead wax; the B-side has “Active” and “GEO @ 3rd Man Live” carved. The double-LP has these four messages carved on its respective sides: “Confederate Gallery Opening”, “Understood”, “Schotts, Schotts, Schotts”, and “Go ahead ask him”.


The Dead Weather - Open Up (That's Enough) / Rough Detective

Dead Weather “Open Up (That’s Enough)” b/w “Rough Detective” (Third Man single TMR 243) 2013

Track Listing:

a. Open Up (That’s Enough)
b. Rough Detective


The Raconteurs - Live at the Ryman Auditorium

Raconteurs “Live at the Ryman Auditorium” (Third Man TMR 241) 2013

Track Listing:

A SIDE

1. Consoler of the Lonely
2. Hands
3. Level
4. Old Enough

B SIDE

5. Top Yourself
6. Many Shades of Black
7. The Switch and the Spur

C SIDE

8. Intimate Secretary
9. Broken Boy Soldier
10. Blue Veins

D SIDE

11. Salute Your Solution
12. Steady, As She Goes
13. Carolina Drama


Raconteurs “Live at the Ryman Auditorium” DVD (Third Man TMR 242) 2013

The DVD documents the same concert, with the same track list as above.

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