Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 43: The Raconteurs “Live In Tulsa” (2020)

The 43rd set of exclusive vinyl items offered to Platinum members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in March of 2020. 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 members every three months.

The 43rd Vault package contained a triple-LP live set by the Raconteurs, a Blu-Ray disc featuring two live performances by Jack White and Brendan Benson, and a Raconteurs flexi-disc.

The 3-LP set Live In Tulsa – pressed in green, black, and “gold foil” vinyl discs – culls recordings from three concerts performed by the Raconteurs at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma in October 2019. It was certainly not the first live Raconteurs album to be issued through the Vault, but it was the first one to be issued after the band’s long-awaited third studio album Help Us Stranger finally arrived in 2019. Live In Tulsa contains live performances of nearly all of the songs from that album, as well as 13 selections from the two earlier Raconteurs albums from the ‘00’s. The performances do not disappoint – but the recording sound quality often does. For an official recording, this set often sounds flat and muffled – especially the first disc (the green one) – and that can sometimes be frustrating.

The Racs often mixed modern sounds with vintage ones for these performances, especially on the selections from Help Us Stranger. This is particularly noticeable on “Sunday Driver”, “Broken Boy Soldier”, and the cover of Donovan’s “Hey Gyp” – which incorporates snippets of Them’s “Gloria” and the Strangeloves’ “I Want Candy”. The mid-tempo single “Now That You’re Gone” sounds much less poppy in this setting, beginning with an extended blues intro before moving into thick clouds of noisy guitar distortion.

Fortunately, the older selections do not sound tired, even to those of us who have experienced other Raconteurs live albums through the Vault. Among the standouts are a raw “Salute Your Solution” and a fun seven-minute version of “Top Yourself”.

The third disc is the best of the three, in sight (the “gold foil” colored vinyl is cool to look at), sound (this disc comes through clearer than the first two), and performances: the intricate 13-minute psychedelic blues jam of “Blue Veins”; an intense performance of “Consoler Of The Lonely”; the Skynyrd-like Southern rock of Benson’s “Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)”; a dependably good performance of the sturdy epic murder ballad “Carolina Drama”; and a rendition of “Steady, As She Goes” with changed-up guitar sounds. When all is said and done, Live In Tulsa certainly shapes up to be a good live album, but it’s a shame that the first two discs don’t come through better.

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 this three-record set, which has “Stay” carved in Side A, “Gold” carved in Side B, “Pony” carved in Side C, “Boy” carved in Side D, “Stay” carved in Side E, and “Gold” carved in Side F. Put those words together, and it forms a quote from S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders.

The Raconteurs “Live In Tulsa” (Third Man Records TMR-661) 2020

Track Listing:


1. Bored And Razed
2. What’s Yours Is Mine
3. Level
4. Together
5. Top Yourself


1. Hey Gyp / Gloria / I Want Candy
2. Broken Boy Soldier
3. Many Shades Of Black
4. Salute Your Solution
5. Don’t Bother Me


1. Shine The Light On Me
2. The Switch And The Spur
3. Help Me Stranger
4. Old Enough
5. Sunday Driver


6. Now That You’re Gone
7. You Don’t Understand Me
8. Thoughts And Prayers


9. Blue Veins
10. Consoler Of The Lonely
11. Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)


12. Only Child
13. Carolina Drama
14. Steady, As She Goes

The prize possession of this package is the Blu-Ray disc Born And Razed, which features two acoustic live performances by the duo of White and Benson, without the other two Racs. The first of the two shows was filmed way back in March of 1999 in the lounge of the Garden Bowl bowling alley in Detroit. Shot with a handheld device by one Lisa Jannon, this performance took place three months before the release of the first White Stripes album – and a good seven years before the first Raconteurs release. Although it naturally takes time to acclimate to the video's amateur quality, this raw video captures a good early moment in the careers of these two performers, who played a fine set of small-scale rock and roll on a local level. Eight of the twelve song selections were White Stripes songs ("Candy Cane Children" was the only one released at the time), two were Benson solo songs, and the others were covers of Pink Floyd's 1971 tune "Fearless" (sung by Benson) and "Who's To Say" from the yet-to-be-formed Detroit band Blanche (White had played with the song's author in Goober & The Peas). Both of the performers play acoustic guitars, and take turns at the drum set. This was purportedly the first time the two played together in public, but their chemistry was already remarkable, and was especially noticeable when White took the vocal turn on Benson's "Crosseyed", and Benson took the vocal turn on White's "You've Got Her In Your Pocket".

The second of the two shows was performed 20 years later in July 2019, at the almost-as-intimate Third Man Records Cass Corridor in the same city. Playing a classy 45-minute Unplugged-style set before an audience of approximately 300 people, the duo came across like well-behaved grown-ups (Jack was celebrating his 44th birthday that day), but they thankfully had not outgrown all of their old ways. They once again covered Pink Floyd's "Fearless" (with both sharing the lead vocals), and each took a turn singing one of the other's songs: Benson sang the White Stripes song "Sugar Never Tasted So Good", and White sang Benson's "Metarie". They also covered Little Richard's "Lucille" (with Benson somehow inserting a Go-Go's passage at the beginning), but the duo now had their own sizable repertoire to draw from. They played five Raconteurs songs (four of them new), two other White Stripes selections, and Jack's solo tune "Love Interruption", all of which lend themselves well to the stripped-down acoustic setting. Nice.

“Born And Razed: Two Intimate Acoustic Performances with Jack White and Brendan Benson of the Raconteurs 1999 | 2019” (Third Man Blu-Ray) 2020

Track Listing:

Live at the Garden Bowl Lounge - March 14, 1999

I Fought Piranhas (The White Stripes)
Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground (The White Stripes)
Crosseyed (Brendan Benson)
Who’s to Say (Blanche)
You’ve Got Her In Your Pocket (The White Stripes)
The Same Boy You’ve Always Known (The White Stripes)
Do (The White Stripes)
Good to Me (Brendan Benson)
Sugar Never Tasted So Good (The White Stripes)
Fearless (Pink Floyd)
Suzy Lee (The White Stripes)
Candy Cane Children (The White Stripes)

Live at Third Man Records Cass Corridor - July 9, 2019

Fearless (Pink Floyd)
Sugar Never Tasted So Good (The White Stripes)
Metarie (Brendan Benson)
Only Child (The Raconteurs)
Lucille (Little Richard)
Love Interruption (Jack White)
Now That You’re Gone (The Raconteurs)
Shine The Light On Me (The Raconteurs)
As Ugly As I Seem (The White Stripes)
Together (The Raconteurs)
We’re Going to Be Friends (The White Stripes)
Help Me Stranger (The Raconteurs)

Instead of the usual 7-inch vinyl single, this package contained a one-sided translucent orange flexi-disc, which featured a live-in-the-studio performance by the Raconteurs of “I’m Your Puppet”, the Memphis soul standard written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, and best remembered as a 1966 hit for James & Bobby Purify. It was one of two songs recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama for exclusive streaming through Amazon Music (the other one being a performance of “Now That You’re Gone”). For their version of “I’m Your Puppet”, the Racs added piano and xylophone to their usual guitar-based sounds. White’s lead vocal suggests a slightly anguished interpretation of the lyrics about being under the control of the person you love. It’s quite good, and it might have fit in well on Jack’s Lazaretto solo album. Flexi-discs have never been known for great sound quality, but this one plays nicely, and it’s fun to watch the orange square spin around at 45-rounds-per-minute. Or, you can ask Alexa to play the track for you.

The Raconteurs “I’m Your Puppet” flexi-disc (Third Man TMR-661) 2020

a. I’m Your Puppet – Fame Studios Sessions (Amazon Original)

Reviews of other Third Man Records Vault packages