Thursday, September 24, 2015

Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 25: The Dead Weather “Dodge And Burn”

The 25th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in late September of 2015. 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.

The twenty-fifth Vault package focused on the Dead Weather’s 2015 album Dodge And Burn, which was properly released on September 25th of that year. The package contained a limited edition vinyl version of the album, and a 7-inch single which served as the only physical version of the album’s first single, “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)”. There is no rare music in this package, only rare vinyl.

The single is pressed in “inclement weather” colored vinyl, which is opaque yellow with black streaks. The A-side “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)” has a riff similar to that of Jack White’s solo track “Freedom At 21”, which gives it a strong-enough hard-rock foundation. But Alison Mosshart’s singing of the chorus (“I feel love every million miles, I feel love every once in a while”) is the earworm that will stay in your head afterwards. The end-of-song tempo speed-up gives it a satisfying finish. The B-side, “Cop And Go”, goes darker. Using a sonic noise backdrop resembling a landline phone’s off-hook warning tone, the song has an ominous atmosphere throughout. Mosshart’s agitated lead vocal creates even more tension (“You cop like a cop and you go, go, go, go!)”.

The Vault version of Dodge And Burn is also pressed in the “inclement weather” color, in 180g vinyl, and is housed in an alternate sleeve with a bonus poster and digital download card included.

Four of the songs were previously issued on 7-inch singles in earlier Vault packages; they were remixed and remastered for the final album. “Open Up” and “Rough Detective” were issued on the single in package 18. “Open Up” is another song propelled by punchy riffs that give Mosshart a sturdy foundation over which to sing the odd lyrics. “Rough Detective” is a 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 song is a unique mesh of the Dead Weather members’ individual personalities, although it leaves less of an impression as part of this album than it did as a single side.

Two other songs, “Buzzkill(er)” and “Too Bad”, were issued on the single in Vault package 21. “Buzzkill(er)”, is a nihilistic garage-rocker with a chainsaw riff; the equally devil-may-care “Too Bad” (formerly known as “It’s Just Too Bad”) has a 2 a.m. feeling of moody detachment.

The original idea was to issue the album’s remaining tracks on later singles in subsequent Vault packages until the album was completed. That’s not the way it was ultimately done, undoubtedly due to the sporadic nature of the recording sessions. The members of the Dead Weather recorded Dodge And Burn when they found enough time off from their day jobs: Mosshart normally performs with the Kills; Fertita with Queens Of The Stone Age; and Jack Lawrence with the Greenhornes - hence the five-year hiatus since the previous full-length Dead Weather album.

But this did not result in qualitative inconsistency, as the rest of the album lives up to the promise of the aforementioned singles (which were remixed and remastered to make their sound consistent with the rest of the album). Five of the other six tracks are nearly solid examples of the Dead Weather’s dark and fuzzy goth-blues-rock. “Let Me Through” and “Be Still” have pulsating rhythms. “Three Dollar Hat” is a finely woven opus made up of three parts, two-thirds of which are sung by Jack White. “Lose The Right” and “Mile Markers” have less staccato arrangements than most of the other tracks, though they cannot exactly be described as smooth.

The big surprise is the album’s closing track. “Impossible Winner” is an utterly accessible pop ballad (!) in which Mosshart displays vocal chops that could win her a Grammy. With its polished piano and string arrangements, this song is so easy to like that it might land the Dead Weather on the singles chart alongside Jack White’s Tidal partners. It’s a bright finish for an otherwise dark-hued album, the whole of which shows remarkable development from a supergroup that originally came together virtually by accident. Let’s hope the Dead Weather find time soon for another album as good as Dodge And Burn.

Here are the bizarre novelties about the alternate black-and-white Vault album sleeve designed by Rob Jones (not including the sight of Jack Lawrence having six fingers on his hand in the cover art). Besides being made of soft-touch material, the gatefold emits a surprising “scream” sound when it is opened out, and the front cover supposedly uses “sandpaper” to depict flames in the cover art. The word on the web is that the so-called sandpaper is actually just glitter. Actual sandpiper certainly would have been a strange touch...because, what is the purpose of using sandpaper in an LP’s cover art? Why, it’s to gradually ruin the other LP’s in the owner’s collection! I would expect such a thing from insolent punks like Johnny Rotten and Durutti Column…but from the Vault? A record service that appeals to vinyl lovers? I knew something didn’t jibe there. Whatever the case may be, here is my suggestion: store this Dodge And Burn LP inside an added plastic outer sleeve.

The bonus item in this package is a custom deck of Dead Weather playing cards, designed by the Detroit design studio Silent Giants, with the band members drawn as the king (Fertita), queen (Mosshart), jack (White), and joker (Lawrence). This custom deck was previously sold online in 2010 in a limited run of 500.

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 7-inch single has “Picture a car in a desert” carved in its A-side, and “No Cod Gap” carved in its B-side. The LP has “That Wee Redhead” carved on Side One, and “Weed Heat Hat Red” carved in Side Two.

Another note on another limited edition of Dodge And Burn: a version of the CD sold exclusively at Best Buy stores came boxed with a Dead Weather t-shirt, and the cover art on the box depicted an X-ray of the six-fingered hand we see on Jack Lawrence in the cover art for the album’s other editions.




The Dead Weather “I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)” b/w “Cop And Go” (Third Man single TMR330) 2015

a. I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)
b. Cop And Go




The Dead Weather “Dodge And Burn” (Third Man TMR 331) 2015

Track Listing:

1. I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)
2. Buzzkill(er)
3. Let Me Through
4. Three Dollar Hat
5. Lose The Right
6. Rough Detective
7. Open Up
8. Be Still
9. Mile Markers
10. Cop and Go
11. Too Bad
12. Impossible Winner