Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 38: Raconteurs “Consolers Of The Lonely” (2018 vinyl edition)

The 38th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in December of 2018. 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. The Vault service promises to deliver exclusive vinyl-only records (usually one full-length album and one 7” single) to its Platinum members every three months.

The 38th Vault package consisted of a 10-Year Anniversary vinyl edition of Consolers Of The Lonely, the 2008 sophomore album by the Raconteurs, and a 7-inch single containing two new Raconteurs studio tracks – their first new studio recordings in a decade – from their forthcoming third album.

This double-LP edition of Consolers Of The Lonely is pressed in “copper foil” colored vinyl, and was mastered directly from the original 1-inch master tapes. The word on the web is that the analog sound quality of this vinyl edition is noticeably different from the sound on digital versions of the album.

The Raconteurs are a supergroup of a sort. White splits the singer-songwriter duties with Brendan Benson, who is also a solo artist; the other two members of the quartet are bassist Jack Lawrence and drummer Patrick Keeler, who were previously members of the Cincinnati band called the Greenhornes. Consolers Of The Lonely was their second and (until 2019) most recent album. It was given an unannounced “surprise” release in 2008, a few years before the likes of Radiohead made it fashionable to do so.

The music on Consolers Of The Lonely was quite different from what the Racs had offered on their 2006 debut album Broken Boy Soldiers, which had mainly consisted of Anglophilic neo-‘60’s rock that bore some similarity to Lawrence and Keeler’s work with the Greenhornes, with songwriters White and Benson seemingly having equal creative input. Consolers sounded much more Jack White-dominated, taking a more hard-nosed, American blues-based approach, suggesting what the White Stripes may have sounded like with a full backing band instead of just Meg White on drums. In retrospect, many of the tracks on Consolers (i.e. “Salute Your Solution”, “You Don’t Understand Me”) foreshadowed the sounds of Jack White’s later solo albums. Although White still shared the vocal duties with Benson – often within the confines of one song – it was a bit harder to tell them apart this time around. The tracks that have the most in common with the debut’s ‘60’s British throwback are the Zeppelin-esque “Top Yourself” and “These Stones Will Shout”, and the cover of Terry Reid’s “Rich Kid Blues”. Two other songs, “The Switch and the Spur” and “Many Shades Of Black”, are similar in some ways to the material on the White Stripes’ Icky Thump album from the previous year – which turned out to be the Stripes’ swan song. “Hold Up” and “Five On The Five” have a garage-rock attitude with a touch of studio polish. The album’s biggest surprise comes at the end: the six-minute “Carolina Drama” is an eerie and gruesome Southern Gothic murder ballad, a striking closer for the album – and, it once seemed, for the Raconteurs’ studio oeuvre.

The 7-inch single, pressed in “mixed metal” colored vinyl, contains two new studio tracks, the first new studio recordings the Racs have made in the 10 years since the Consolers album was released. (The single received a proper commercial release on 12/19/18, approximately one week after most Vault members received their packages). Both sides of the single are labeled as A-sides. One of the two tracks, titled “Now That You’re Gone”, is an accessible ‘70’s-style mid-tempo blues-rock song, with Eric Clapton-like guitar licks and a lead vocal by Brendan Benson which makes him sound like a smoother Jack White. The song is lightly garnished with doo-wop harmonies and alternative-rock guitar effects. It has hit single potential, if it gets the proper exposure. The other track, titled “Sunday Driver”, is a harder-rocking song sung by White that would have fit in well on one of his solo albums, differentiated by a short bridge sung by Benson and Lawrence. If many of the coming album’s songs sound like this one, then the album may be picking up right where Consolers left off a decade earlier.

The bonus items in this Vault package are an embroidered insignia patch and a set of 4 brushed silver stickers based on the Consolers album art.

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” carved in Side A, “Are” carved in Side B, “Pelle’s” carved in Side C, and “Footsteps” carved in Side D. The 7-inch single has “WTS” carved in both sides.

The Raconteurs “Consolers Of The Lonely” (Third Man TMR-538) 2018

Track Listing:

1. Consoler Of The Lonely
2. Salute Your Solution
3. You Don’t Understand Me
4. Old Enough
5. The Switch and the Spur
6. Hold Up
7. Top Yourself
8. Many Shades Of Black
9. Five On The Five
10. Attention
11. Pull This Blanket Off
12. Rich Kid Blues
13. These Stones Will Shout
14. Carolina Drama

The Raconteurs “Now That You’re Gone” b/w “Sunday Driver” (Third Man single TMR586) 2018

A. Now That You’re Gone
A. Sunday Driver

Reviews of other Third Man Vault packages