Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 32: Dead Weather "Live At The Mayan, Los Angeles"

The 32nd set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in June of 2017. 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 32nd Vault package featured three items by the Dead Weather, the Goth-rock band consisting of Jack White on drums, Alison Mosshart (from the Kills) on lead vocals, Dean Fertita (from Queens Of The Stone Age) on guitar and keyboards, and Jack Lawrence (from the Raconteurs and the Greenhornes) on bass. The package contains a 2-LP live album recorded in 2009, a DVD documenting the same concert, and a 7-inch single containing two songs from the band’s 2015 album Dodge And Burn.

The live double-LP Live At The Mayan, Los Angeles, pressed in “dead haze vinyl” (which looks orange-yellow to my eyes), captures a concert performed at the Mayan Theatre in L.A. in August 2009, the month after the Dead Weather’s debut album Horehound was released. In retrospect, Horehound had the paradoxical sound and feel of a spontaneous “underground” recording which was nonetheless professionally recorded and produced. By contrast, this Horehound-era concert has a sound that seems both rawer and better rehearsed than the album (which sounds like another contradiction in terms). This supergroup that coalesced under unexpected circumstances had seemingly reached the point where the development of their dark and fuzzy Goth-blues style was almost, though not quite, finished its gestation period. The band performed eight songs from Horehound and two obscure ‘60’s covers that appeared as B-sides. Those two covers – Van Morrison and Them’s “You Just Can’t Win” and a psychedelic oddity titled “A Child Of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death” – immediately come across as more fully formed than the originals, showing that the band’s aesthetic still had some room for growth. But Live At The Mayan is hardly an example of a performance from a band that was just learning to crawl. The Dead Weather were proudly and confidently introducing something new here, something that sounded unique and creative at a time when it seemed like everything that rock and roll had to offer had already been done.

As modern as the Dead Weather’s sound may seem, there is an ongoing hint of late-‘60’s and early-‘70’s psychedelia present in their onstage jamming during Live At The Mayan, largely due to Fertita’s guitar and keyboard work. After starting the set off with the fairly straightforward blues of “60 Feet Tall”, the band uses heavy amounts of distortion to create their dark atmosphere, topped with Mosshart’s raspy contralto singing. Although Mosshart is the undisputed frontwoman, Jack White does take on some lead vocal duties, most notably on the aforementioned Them cover. The lengthy “Will There Be Enough Water” – which has the third LP side all to itself – finds White and Mosshart crooning together amid long instrumental stretches. The more intense “Treat Me Like Your Mother” is another high point, and another song in which Mosshart and White notably interact well on vocals.

The hour-long DVD Live At The Mayan, Los Angeles provides an engaging visual presentation of the same concert. Sure enough, the then-new supergroup looked every bit as confident as they sounded. The dark-tressed Mosshart comes on like Jim Morrison reincarnated as a woman, prancing and cavorting in a way that suggests both menace and sensuality. The interaction between her and White is a particularly telling indicator of the chemistry they already had, although it is remarkable how well all four of them worked together at this early stage. The three instrumentalists all appeared to be on the same page on how to convey the Dead Weather’s still-young brand of Gothic blues rock. The dark, blue-hued stage lighting helps to create an aura complementing the ominous nature of the music. One standout visual moment comes during “Will There Be Enough Water”, when Mosshart pauses to watch White’s hands playing the guitar – just like Jim Morrison would probably have done.

The 7-inch single, pressed in black and yellow vinyl, contains the songs “Three Dollar Hat” and “Lose The Right”, from the 2015 album Dodge And Burn. Before that album was recorded, the original idea was to gradually issue the album’s tracks on vinyl 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 which predated the album in 2013 and 2014, and one more single was issued in the same Vault package as the finished album in 2015. Third Man has now finally completed the process of issuing all of the tracks from the now-released album on 7-inch singles in 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. (To sweeten the deal, this 32nd Vault package included a box designed to house all six singles). Although this was the last of the six singles, it featured one of the better pairs of dark and intense songs from the album. “Three Dollar Hat” is a sinister Southern Gothic tale of murder in the Old West, mostly sung by Jack White in sardonic fashion while Fertita’s synthesizer emits eerie noises. “Lose The Right”, like most Dead Weather songs, is sung by Mosshart, who is accompanied by moody and fuzzy Goth-blues instrumentation, including noticeably Bonham-like drumming by White. Taken together with the live album recorded in 2009, this single does help to demonstrate how much more developed the Dead Weather’s sound has become since their beginning.

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 double LP has “Where’s Hutch?”, “Where’s Lunch?”, “Where’s Water?”, and “Where’s Queen?” carved in its respective sides. The single has “Eagle tags” carved in the A-side, and “The Ghostlier” carved in the B-side.

The Dead Weather “Live At The Mayan, Los Angeles” (Third Man TMR-456) 2017

Track Listing:

1. 60 Feet Tall
2. Hang You From The Heavens
3. You Just Can’t Win
4. So Far From Your Weapon
5. A Child Of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death
6. No Hassle Night
7. Will There Be Enough Water?
8. I Cut Like A Buffalo
9. Treat Me Like Your Mother
10. New Pony

The Dead Weather “Live At The Mayan, Los Angeles” (Third Man DVD TMR456) 2017

Track Listing:

1. Intro
2. 60 Feet Tall
3. Hang You From The Heavens
4. You Just Can’t Win
5. So Far From Your Weapon
6. A Child Of A Few Hours Is Burning To Death
7. No Hassle Night
8. Will There Be Enough Water?


9. I Cut Like A Buffalo
10. Treat Me Like Your Mother
11. New Pony

The Dead Weather “Three Dollar Hat” b/w “Lose The Right” (Third Man single TMR-455) 2017

a. Three Dollar Hat
b. Lose The Right

Reviews of other Third Man Vault packages