Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 27

The 27th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in April 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 twenty-seventh Vault package contained a 3-LP set, featuring live concerts from three bands that Jack White was involved with in 1998 and 1999. The 7-inch single from the Dead Weather contained two tracks from their 2015 Dodge And Burn album.

The Live at the Gold Dollar box set contains three full-length live LP's recorded at the now-defunct Detroit venue in the late 1990's. The three discs are housed in a telescoping box, which also contains soft-touch record sleeves for each individual album. All three discs are pressed in transparent gold vinyl.

The first of these LP's features a January 1998 concert by Two Star Tabernacle, which was a short-lived Detroit country-punk band consisting of Jack White and the two founders-to-be of Blanche (Dan John Miller and Tracee Mae Miller) and drummer Damian Lang (best known for performing with the Detroit Cobras shortly after). This band previously only released two singles – one of them as part of Vault package #9 – featuring '50's r&b veteran Andre Williams. Mr. Williams had no involvement with this show, which has often circulated as a bootleg; most of the vocals are sung by Dan John Miller. The Two Star Tabernacle sound hinted at Blanche’s alt-country future, especially when they performed four songs which were later recorded by Blanche (“Who’s To Say”, “Garbage Picker”, “Red Head”, “So Long Cruel World”). But with Jack White as a collaborator, the Millers’ songs had a more aggressive electric psychobilly sound than their later, gentler versions did. A Jack White composition called “Itchy” – which he has never recorded with any of his bands – was equal parts punk and rockabilly. On the other hand, the future White Stripes song “Hotel Yorba” had a more countrified feeling when it was sung as a duet between White and Dan Miller. It actually made a lot of sense for this country-punk quartet to cover both the Minutemen and Merle Travis. “Heavens To Betsy” is marked “incomplete” because it abruptly fades out in the middle – and that’s too bad, because it sounded pretty darn good. And so does the rest of the disc.

The second disc features a raucous November 1998 show by the Go, a Detroit band that specializes in garage psychedelia. This show was recorded before the release of the Go's 1999 debut album Whatcha Doin' on Sub Pop Records. At this point in time, Jack White played lead guitar and provided backing vocals for the band. This concert is reminiscent of the Detroit rock scene from decades earlier, emulating the pre-punk sound and spirit of the Stooges, MC5, and early Alice Cooper. White mostly took a backseat to the band’s frontman Bobby Harlow, but his blistering guitar work does make a mark on “Meet Me At The Movies”, the dirty psychedelia of “Long Is The Tongue”, and a suitably barbaric cover of the Sonics’ “Psycho”. This set also contains a White composition – “Turn Your Little Light Bulb On” – that has never been recorded by any of White’s bands. Although it fits in well with this set, it also allows Jack to strut his early-Stripes-style stuff.

The third disc features a September 1999 concert by the ever-busy Jack White fronting a band now referred to as the Bricks, who were previously heard from through a live album released in Vault package #15. (A reproduced flyer included in this package bills them only as the Jack White Band, opening for Royal Trux). The Bricks were comprised of Brendan Benson (the future Raconteur) on guitar, drummer Ben Blackwell (from the Dirtbombs), and bassist Kevin Peyok (from the Waxwings). This album easily has better sound quality than the previous live Vault album from this quartet. During this set, the Bricks performed eight future White Stripes songs (the bulk of which turned up on the Stripes’ 2001 album White Blood Cells), a cover of Little Richard’s “Ooh My Soul”, and an otherwise unreleased Jack White composition called “One And Two”. With a full backing band behind him, White’s playing on this set was generally less intense than it was during a typical White Stripes concert. (Well, except for that closing Little Richard cover; that’s when Jack and the Bricks really let loose and tore the place up). White seemingly felt less pressure to carry the show on his shoulders, as he somewhat slows down his usually breathless performing to let his three backing players add extra flavor to his songs. From the early moments of “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”, it’s immediately noticeable that Brendan Benson’s guitar added an extra dimension to these then-unrecorded songs. These fuller-bodied arrangements of the White Stripes’ minimalist blues-rock songs make the Bricks’ Live at the Gold Dollar an interesting historical recording, though it’s not an all-important must-have.

The bonus item in this package is a Third Man challenge coin which doubles as a 45 turntable adapter. The package also includes replicas of the show fliers and setlists, and a fold-out 12 X 24-inch poster showing the outside of the Gold Dollar club.

The Dead Weather single is pressed in gold-colored vinyl with black wisps. Before the Dodge And Burn album was recorded, the original idea was to gradually issue the album’s tracks on singles in Vault packages until the album was eventually completed. But it turned out that only two singles – offering four tracks in all – were issued in Vault packages before the album was released in September of 2015, and one more single was issued in the same Vault package as the finished album. Unwisely, Third Man has made the decision to continue issuing the remaining tracks from the now-released album in subsequent Vault packages. Clearly, the single in this package is strictly for fans who feel a need to own all of the Dodge And Burn album’s tracks on physical 7-inch vinyl singles. The single’s A-side “Let Me Through” is a good specimen of the Dead Weather’s dark-and-fuzzy goth-rock, built on a hypnotic background of repetitive distortion. One passage presented in a double-voice track toward the end is heard to good effect on vinyl. The B-side, “Be Still”, has a jerkier structure, working better as part of its album than as a stand-alone track. This leaves one more Dead Weather Dodge And Burn single to come from the Vault – although no such single is slated for Packages #28 or 29.

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 7-inch single has “Chesty La Rue” carved in its A-side, and “Bae Stijl” carved in its B-side. The Two Star Tabernacle LP has “Get rid of the worst” carved on Side One, and “Get rid of the company store” carved in Side Two. The Go LP has “Face Turned Green” carved on Side One, and “Hey Gyp” carved on Side Two. The Bricks LP has “Trading this for that” carved on Side One, and “sans a certain man” carved on Side Two.

Various Artists “Live at the Gold Dollar” (box set)

Two Star Tabernacle “Live at the Gold Dollar” (Third Man TMR367) 2016

Track Listing:

1. Zig Zag Springs
2. Who’s To Say
3. Itchy
4. Hotel Yorba
5. Garbage Picker
6. Now Mary
7. Heavens To Betsy (Incomplete)
8. Red Head
9. Jesus And Tequila
10. So Long Cruel World
11. Sixteen Tons

The Go “Live at the Gold Dollar” (Third Man TMR368) 2016

Track Listing:

1. Meet Me At The Movies
2. But You Don’t Know
3. Whatcha Doin’
4. Long Is The Tongue
5. Get You Off
6. Turn Your Little Light Bulb On
7. Suzy Don’t Leave
8. You Can Get High
9. Psycho

Jack White & The Bricks “Live at the Gold Dollar” (Third Man TMR369) 2016

Track Listing:

1. Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
2. I Can’t Wait
3. One And Two
4. The Same Boy You’ve Always Known
5. You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket
6. The Union Forever
7. Now Mary
8. Candy Cane Children
9. Offend In Every Way
10. Ooh My Soul

The Dead Weather “Let Me Through” b/w “Be Still” (Third Man single TMR370) 2016

a. Let Me Through
b. Be Still

Reviews of other Third Man Vault packages