Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 47: Jack White “Live at the Masonic Temple: Detroit 7/30/14” (2021)

The 47th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in March and April of 2021. 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 47th Vault package contained a 4-LP live album from Jack White recorded in 2014, and a 7-inch single featuring the songs White performed on Saturday Night Live in October 2020.

The mammoth 4-LP set Live At The Masonic Temple: Detroit 7/30/14 documents White’s mammoth three-hour-plus concert at that place and date. The four discs were pressed in colored 180-gram vinyl, the first one white, the second one dark blue, the third one black, and the fourth one in swirled light-blue. The LP’s were housed in a slipcase cover, with four striking cardboard inner sleeves printed with David Swanson photographs from the concert.

White’s backing band for this concert consisted of five musicians who had played on the then-new Lazaretto album: bassist Dominic Davis, drummer Daru Jones, multi-instrumentalists Lillie Mae Rische and Fats Kaplin, and the late Ikey Owens on keys. A surprise guest appearance was made by White’s Dead Weather bandmates Alison Mosshart and Dean Fertita for a performance of “I Cut Like A Buffalo”. Most of the other song selections were drawn from the White Stripes repertoire and from White’s first two solo albums: Blunderbuss (2012) and Lazaretto (2014).

The album’s first side opens with a spasm of punk rock fury in the form of three White Stripes numbers. After getting that out of their system, White and company move into more sophisticated territory with the instrumental “High Ball Stepper”. That sophistication prevails for the remainder of the concert, showing how White was moving forward from the minimalist blues-rock of the White Stripes, taking on wider musical territory with more instrumentation.

The songs from White’s solo albums are generally given faithful and satisfying treatments by White and his band. “Just One Drink” sounds even more Stones-like than it did on Lazaretto, taking on a vibe reminiscent of Exile On Main Street. “Hypocritical Kiss” and “Would You Fight For My Love?” make good use of spacey guitar effects.

The White Stripes songs tend to sound significantly different when given a full-band sound. “Hotel Yorba” gets a countrified treatment with fiddle and steel guitar, and similar country stylings are noticeably added to “We’re Going To Be Friends”, “Sugar Never Tasted So Good”, and “The Same Boy You’ve Always Known”. “Screwdriver” is delivered with much more instrumental variance than the White Stripes’ version, and “I Fought Piranhas” is sonically enhanced. White and his band do an excellent job of reproducing the avant garde sounds of “Icky Thump” in this setting.

During a great cover of Junior Wells’ “Hoodoo Man”, White pays homage to earlier Detroit rock bands who played at the venue, apparently having mixed feelings about Ted Nugent. White also gives a shout-out to Beck, with a short and raw rendition of “Devil’s Haircut”. But Hank Williams, Sr. is the artist who gets the best tribute during this show; besides covering Williams’ “Rambling Man”, White also performs a song that he “co-wrote” with Williams: “You Know That I Know” was a previously unheard song unearthed in Williams’ notebook which was “completed” by Jack White, and was included on the 2011 various artists album titled The Lost Notebooks of Hank Williams.

The set does have its incoherent moments. After “Steady, As She Goes” – the only Raconteurs selection – gets off to a shaky start, it turns into a loose seven-minute jam session. And the supposed mixture of the Stripes’ “Ball And Biscuit” and Led Zep’s “Lemon Song” actually comes across as an aimless blues improv. Those two tracks would surely not have been included on a commercial release of this album.

But this, of course, is not a commercial release. This is an exclusive fan club-issued album for those fans who want to go beyond the typical polished presentations and hear White’s quirkier moments, such as the medley of “Sixteen Saltines” and “Devil’s Haircut”, and the bizarre eight-minute treatment of “Seven Nation Army” at the concert’s end. This album is designed for the fans who would have been – as well as the ones who were – a part of the audience who were present for that three-hour-plus, 36-song concert in Detroit. For those who want to own a recording of a lengthy White concert from a night when he was in a real performing mood, playing material old, new, and unexpected, with the mistakes included, Live At The Masonic Temple certainly delivers.

The 7-inch single Saturday Night Live 10-11-20 vinylized White’s performances on Saturday Night Live on October 11th of 2020. The 33 rpm A-side contains a medley of Beyoncé’s “Don’t Hurt Yourself” (which White co-wrote), the White Stripes’ “Ball And Biscuit”, and Blind Willie Johnson’s “Jesus Is Coming Soon” – a 1929 blues song written about the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. “Ball And Biscuit” serves as the blues-rocking foundation of the three combined songs; the short piece from “Don’t Hurt Yourself” sounds so much more respectable than the trashy Beyoncé recording of the song, while “Jesus Is Coming Soon” purveys ancient lyrics that are eerily topical in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic: “The nobles said to the people, ‘You better close your public schools, And until death passes you by, You better close all your churches too’". The 45 rpm B-side contains a vigorously hard-rocking performance of White’s solo song “Lazaretto” – so vigorously hard-rocking that White incorporated a bit from Van Halen’s “Eruption” (as a tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen, who passed away five days earlier). It was certainly a breath of fresh air to see Jack White performing on this program during the dark days of the 2020 pandemic, and it’s good to have this moment in time pressed and preserved on a vinyl single.

Another 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 in this package. The four-record set has “I Wanna Tell You A Short Story” carved in Side A, “It’s About A Boy From Detroit” carved in Side B, “He Tried So Hard” carved in Side C, “And People Didn’t Like His Big Mouth” carved in Side D, “But He Played Guitar As Best As He Could” carved in Side E, “And One Day He Became The Best” carved in Side F, “And Do You Know That Boy’s Name?” carved in Side G, and “It’s Ted Motherf---ing Nugent!” carved in Side H. The 7-inch single has “Low Angler Man” carved in Side A, and “Mane All Wrong” carved in Side B.

Jack White “Live At The Masonic Temple: Detroit 7/30/14” (Third Man Records TMR-717) 2021

Track Listing:

Disc 1, Side A:

1. Fell In Love With A Girl
2. Astro
3. The Big Three Killed My Baby
4. High Ball Stepper
5. Lazaretto
6. Missing Pieces

Disc 1, Side B:

1. Just One Drink
2. Hotel Yorba
3. You Know That I Know
4. Love Interruption
5. Weep Themselves To Sleep

Disc 2, Side C:

1. I Cut Like A Buffalo
2. Cannon / Hoodoo Man
3. Icky Thump
4. Screwdriver
5. Ramblin’ Man

Disc 2, Side D:

1. Apple Blossom
2. Three Women
3. The Same Boy You’ve Always Known
4. We’re Going To Be Friends
5. Sugar Never Tasted So Good

Disc 3, Side E:

1. Entitlement
2. Alone In My Home
3. Steady, As She Goes

Disc 3, Side F:

1. Ball and Biscuit / The Lemon Song
2. The Hardest Button To Button
3. Sixteen Saltines
4. Devil’s Haircut

Disc 4, Side G:

1. Hypocritical Kiss
2. That Black Bat Licorice
3. Would You Fight For My Love?
4. Blue Blood Blues
5. You Don’t Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You’re Told)

Disc 4, Side H:

1. My Doorbell
2. I Fought Piranhas
3. Seven Nation Army

Jack White “Saturday Night Live 10-11-20” (Third Man single TMR-723) 2021

Track Listing:

a. Don’t Hurt Yourself / Ball And Biscuit / Jesus Is Coming Soon
b. Lazaretto

Reviews of other Third Man Records Vault packages