Third Man Records vinyl exclusives, Part 58: The White Stripes “Live In Las Vegas 2003” (2023)

The 58th set of exclusive vinyl items offered to members of Third Man Records’ Vault service was mailed out to the members in December of 2023. 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 58th Vault package featured a 3-LP live album by the White Stripes recorded in 2003 during the Elephant tour, as well as a 7-inch single containing two additional live performances of "Ball And Biscuit" -- one of them performed as a duet by Bob Dylan and Jack White. As bonus items, the package contained a patch, a bumper sticker, and two art prints by Rob Jones.

The 3-LP set Live In Las Vegas 2003 was recorded at a September 2003 White Stripes show at the Joint in the Hard Rock Casino in Vegas, for which approximately 40 contest winners were flown out to the show, got to do a meet-and-greet with the duo, and then later were given a vinyl pressing of the evening’s show. That rare original pressing (V2 Records V2DJ-27188-1) had no printed artwork or information, with only the words “The White Stripes Live In Las Vegas” rubber-stamped on the labels. Only 100 copies of those original LP's were pressed, but now the album has been pressed anew for this Vault package, in one red disc, one white disc, and one black disc.

Live In Las Vegas 2003 is a crystal-clear recording of a concert with loads of guitar distortion. And what a furious concert it was! Mr. White may have been releasing pent-up frustration during this show, as he was recovering from a broken finger. (He stopped in the middle of "Offend In Every Way" because he wasn't able to play the D-minor chord). The twin attack of Jack White's guitar and Meg White's drumming packs a potent punch on songs like "When I Hear My Name", "Death Letter", and "I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself". The fury is often thunderous on the first disc (Sides A and B). "Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground" begins the show with a fierce wall of guitar distortion. On "Black Math", Jack savagely shrieks and plays blistering guitar at hyper speed. "St. James Infirmary" and "Take A Whiff On Me" seemingly begin calmly, the former with piano and the latter with an a cappella intro, before exploding with ferocity. Even a ballad like "I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother's Heart" seems a bit louder than usual here; Meg's lead vocal on "In The Cold, Cold Night" gets drowned out a bit by Jack's guitar toward the end.

Things get a little bit calmer on the second disc (Sides C and D). After the aborted effort to play "Offend In Every Way", the duo turns the volume down a notch. But they still play with amazing speed and energy. Jack applies unusually varying guitar sounds to "Seven Nation Army" and "Ball and Biscuit". He settles down a lot for "You've Got Her In Your Pocket" and "Look Me Over Closely", and inserts a brief passage from "Mary Had A Little Lamb" in the middle of "Cannon" as if he wanted the crowd to think he was about to mellow out or something. But then Jack goes wild again for "The Hardest Button To Button", shrieking manically and playing quirky guitar chords with a dense wall of fuzz.

For the final reel on Side E, the duo acts as though they're calming down once again, especially for the ballad "We're Going To Be Friends". Even for speedier numbers like "Hotel Yorba" and "Fell In Love With A Girl", the Whites seemed to be playing with more controlled energy. But it was evidently another ruse, as things became quite frenetic again by the end of "Screwdriver".

Live In Las Vegas 2003 is a great document of a super-charged concert from the White Stripes' Elephant era. Its sound quality is good enough for a commercial release, while the performances may be a bit too quirky for casual fans -- but for Stripes devotees, the album is a knockout.

The 7-inch single, pressed in red-glitter vinyl, is another glittering prize for lovers of the Whites. The A-side features a rare collaboration between Bob Dylan and Jack White. This live track was recorded on March 17th, 2004, when White joined Dylan onstage at the State Theater in Detroit for a rendition of the White Stripes song "Ball And Biscuit". Instrumentally, it's great to hear, with Dylan and his band's slide guitar approach to the blues-rock number mixing surprisingly well with White's garage-based aesthetic. Vocally, though...Dylan's raspy singing is mostly unintelligible, and his vocals do not mix so well with Jack's. Still, it's good to have this memorable intergenerational match-up captured on vinyl. And, seriously: how many other songs from this millennium have you ever heard the Bard cover? The B-side of the single contains the very first live performance of "Ball And Biscuit" by the Stripes, which took place on May 2, 2002 at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London. So, did the yet-to-be-released song sound underdeveloped or under-rehearsed at this point? Not at all. This track is exactly what you want from a live recording of the song, with strong playing and professional sound quality. The duo sounded like they were very proud to unveil this new song to the public, after it had recently been studio-recorded in that same city.

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 the two vinyl items in this Vault package. The 7-inch single has "Hitman in the house" carved in Side A, and "Real deals (not Holyfield) in the house" carved in Side B. The LP set has “We can” carved in Side A, “still be” carved in Side B, “in the” carved in Side C, “same room” carved in Side D, and "together" carved in Side E. As for Side F, that entire side of the disc has an etching of a casino roulette wheel, with a "III" in place of the "3".

The White Stripes “Live In Las Vegas, Feast of St. Eustace 2003” (Third Man TMR-953) 2023

Track Listing:


1. Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground
2. When I Hear My Name
3. Not Fade Away
4. St. James Infirmary
5. Black Math
6. The Big Three Killed My Baby


1. I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother's Heart
2. Death Letter
3. Take A Whiff On Me
4. In The Cold, Cold Night


1. Wasting My Time
2. I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself
3. Offend In Every Way (aborted)
4. The Union Forever
5. Seven Nation Army


1. You've Got Her In Your Pocket
2. I Think I Smell A Rat
3. Look Me Over Closely
4. Cannon
5. Mary Had A Little Lamb
6. Cannon (reprise)
7. Ball and Biscuit
8. The Hardest Button To Button


1. You're Pretty Good Looking
2. Hello Operator
3. We're Going To Be Friends
4. Hotel Yorba
5. Fell In Love With A Girl
6. Your Southern Can Is Mine
7. Screwdriver
8. De Ballit of de Boll Weevil


57. Always bet on black. (art etching, no music or grooves)

Bob Dylan & Jack White "Ball and Biscuit" (Third Man single TMR-954) 2023

a. Bob Dylan & Jack White "Ball and Biscuit" (LIVE March 17, 2004)
b. The White Stripes "Ball and Biscuit" (LIVE May 2, 2002)

Reviews of other Third Man Records Vault releases