Third Man Records vinyl Vault exclusives, Part 30
The 30th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in December of 2016. 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 thirtieth Vault package was designed to touch on all four of White’s well-known musical outlets. Packaged together in a thick yellow box, it contained two LP’s instead of one: a live album by the Raconteurs, and another live album partially featuring the Dead Weather. The single in this package contained a White Stripes song on one side, and a Jack White solo track on the other.
The Raconteurs LP Live At Irving Plaza NYC documents the very first U.S. live show from the Racs. (This LP was pressed in clear vinyl with brown streaks, making it look like it was once dropped in a mud puddle). It was recorded in April 2006, about one month before the release of the band's debut album Broken Boy Soldiers. Although the Raconteurs were a brand new band at the time of this concert, they don’t really sound like one here; after all, these musicians had already known each other for years. Dual singer-songwriter-guitarists White and Brendan Benson are nearly indistinguishable from each other as they take lead vocal turns. The other two Raconteurs, bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keeler, had worked together for years in the Greenhornes. Joining them for this show was future Dead Weather-man Dean Fertita, playing keyboards and additional guitar. They already sounded like a well-rehearsed outfit, as they played 9 out of 10 songs from the debut album. Except for the ballad “Together”, the rest of the band’s power-pop-with-bits-of-psychedelia rocked pretty hard in this setting. The hit-bound “Steady, As She Goes” is noticeably grittier than the studio version. The jamming gets intense on “Store Bought Bones” and “Broken Boy Soldier”. Their psychobilly rendition of Love’s “A House Is Not A Motel” has a ferocity that is more reminiscent of Arthur Lee’s post-Forever Changes work. The set closes with the “new” song “Five On The Five”, which turned up on the second studio album Consolers Of The Lonely; this track not only foreshadows the direction the Raconteurs would soon take, but also hints at the future Goth-rock sound of the Dead Weather. The Raconteurs may be old news to us at this point, but Live At Irving Plaza NYC manages to capture an exciting time and place when the world was about to be introduced to them.
Flash forward ten years, to April 2016. Live At Disgraceland, pressed in clear vinyl with blue streaks, features live performances that were filmed for, but only briefly appeared in, the October 2016 Nashville episode of the CNN program Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. (That would be Season 8, Episode 2, to be exact. It’s a very interesting episode, by the way, as the celebrity chef offers as many insights about Nashville’s music scene as he does about its eateries). “Disgraceland” is a nickname for the Nashville home of Dead Weather singer Alison Mosshart, where these intimate house party performances took place. The LP starts with three songs by the Kills, Mosshart’s indie-rock duo with British guitarist Jamie Hince. This was a good setting for the Kills’ dark-hued minimalist rock, augmented with bass and drums. All three songs were drawn from the Kills' 2016 album Ash & Ice, which was released two months after this event. The third track, “Whirling Eye”, is the standout, taking on a Stooges-like intensity not heard on the studio version. Those three tracks were a good warmup for the next three, when Mosshart was joined by her Dead Weather mates (White, Lawrence, and Fertita) for a set that draws one song apiece from their three albums. This was the Dead Weather’s only performance in 2016, and they gave it their all, almost perfectly recreating their dark and fuzzy Goth-rock in Mosshart's living room. I don't know what time this house party took place, but the first side of this LP is best enjoyed late at night. On the LP’s second side, we get something completely different: three alt-country instrumental performances by William Tyler, the guitarist who has played with Lambchop and Silver Jews, and now records all-instrumental solo albums. Tyler and three other musicians offer richly-textured electric country rock that is certainly modern, but sounds far removed from the slickness of contemporary commercial country music. On their last track, “Area Code 601”, Tyler and company jam like Neil Young and Crazy Horse, but with the constant presence of pedal steel to remind us of what genre we are listening to. Live At Disgraceland illustrates the point made by Bourdain on his program that Nashville is now a musical melting pot for rock and punk as well as country.
The 7-inch single, pressed in clear transparent vinyl with red streaks, contained two tracks that are available on Jack White’s compilation CD Acoustic Recordings 1998-2016. Both songs sound good on vinyl. The White Stripes song “City Lights” is a finished outtake from the 2005 Get Behind Me Satan sessions. It’s a gentle and touching folk-rock ballad about the longing to reunite with a loved one, with Meg White playing with shakers instead of drums. The acoustic mix of Jack White’s solo song “Love Is The Truth” –- which he originally recorded for a 2006 Coca-Cola commercial that only aired once –- is a short-and-sweet pop song with a simple, uplifting love-thy-neighbor message. I think I’ll go out and buy a Coke!
The bonus items in this package are a Third Man silk-screened yellow pennant, and a print of the Rob Jones-designed concert poster from the Raconteurs show, depicting Teddy Roosevelt with vampire fangs.
A note for fellow vinyl aficionados: the 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 Raconteurs LP has “Forever Changes” and “converge afresh” carved in its respective sides; the Live At Disgraceland LP has “neither feather” and “nor blether” carved. The single has “leaky roof” carved in the White Stripes side, and “Oh evilest truth” carved in the Jack White side.
The Raconteurs “Live At Irving Plaza NYC” (Third Man TMR-415) 2016
2. Intimate Secretary
4. Steady, As She Goes
6. A House Is Not A Motel
7. Store Bought Bones
8. Call It A Day
9. Yellow Sun
10. Broken Boy Soldier
11. Five On The Five
The Kills | The Dead Weather | William Tyler “Live At Disgraceland” (Third Man TMR-414) 2016
1. HEART OF A DOG – The Kills
2. IMPOSSIBLE TRACKS – The Kills
3. WHIRLING EYE – The Kills
4. HANG YOU FROM THE HEAVENS – The Dead Weather
5. GASOLINE – The Dead Weather
6. I FEEL LOVE (EVERY MILLION MILES) – The Dead Weather
7. WE CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN – William Tyler
8. I’M GONNA LIVE FOREVER (IF IT KILLS ME) – William Tyler
9. AREA CODE 601 – William Tyler
The White Stripes “City Lights” / Jack White “Love Is The Truth” (Third Man single TMR-400) 2016
a. The White Stripes – “City Lights”
aa. Jack White – “Love Is The Truth” (Acoustic Mix)