Guesting on this post is fellow music blogger Sean Earley. You can find him over at http://seanear1ey.wordpress.com where he blogs and podcasts regularly. He also writes for HeinekenMusic.ie, is a contributor over at Culch.ie and co-runs a Dublin events blog http://todayindublin.wordpress.com
You can follow him on twitter on @seanear1ey
Jack White’s Third Man imprint was originally established as the brand name for a pubescent Anthony Gillis’ furniture re-upholstery business, Third Man Upholstery. Based in Detroit, Gillis [a.k.a. Jack White] spent his late teens covering, filling and reviving old armchairs and sofas, all while wearing trademark yellow and black clobber. Between then and now; Gillis has become White, White has become a guitar virtuoso rock icon and the Third Man motif that began it all has been altered slightly but still Jack White’s signature style.
White has always had a passion for exposing bands and performers he likes to a wider audience through the vehicle of his influence and production skills. An early example being Sympathy For the Record Industry’s ‘Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit‘ where White took it upon himself to gather and produce an LP of Detroit’s local garage bands who were knocking about, just when the White Stripes were gathering steam. In the years thereafter, the duo brought old Detroit friends on tour with them to expose them to global audiences; the Greenhornes, Brendan Benson, the Von Bondies, the Dirtbombs and Blanche all accompanied the White Stripes across the US and around the world.
Now, in his third band, White decided to establish a physical location for Third Man Records, a previously fleeting interest, previously used to publish his previous albums and fund smaller ventures including a single and album in conjunction with Cass Records by the Muldoons. However, Third Man is no longer a fleeting interest. Serious thought, planning and money has been invested into this store, label and venue all-in-one venture. A professional relationship with Nashville’s famous United Record Pressing has been fruitful for Third Man and has resulted in the pioneering of Tri-Colour records, “Three-sided” records, Glow in the Dark 7″s, and 8″ singles/13″ LPs. (A peach coloured and SCENTED LP is planned for Karen Elson‘s debut album due out this month)
Third Man’s aim is to put interest back into vinyl and physical, tangible music that you can hold. Store-only editions, pop-up stores and live recordings of in-store performances all add to the store’s appeal. A veritable Mecca for the Jack White enthusiast. There is a lot more to come for sure and we definitely haven’t seen the best yet-
For now though here’s a run-down of my top 5 most desirable releases from the Third Man Label so far -
BP Fallon – Fame #9/I Believe in Elvis Presley/BP Fallon Interview 7″
All rock and roll roads lead to BP. The Irish music mogul has been in every musical circle worth mentioning over the years. He worked at the Beatles’ label Apple Records in the sixties, became Thin Lizzy and T-Rex‘s publicist, toured with Led Zeppelin as their entertainment manager and wrote a book on his experiences with U2. Now, Jack White is BP’s new interest. The photographer / journalist / Death Disco-jockey recorded a 7″ with the folks at Third Man Records down in Nashville.
The A-side is a spoken word monologue, where BP considers and muses over the fickle nature of Fame. Fantastical imagery is portrayed in a smashing line about Elvis Presley
“I’m hungry he says and the door is jammed with the Memphis mafia. Each one trying to be first to return to the king with a triple cheeseburger covered in molasses and lard, the food that killed him. No one had the balls to say ‘Elvis I love you, you’re a bit fat. Have an apple.”
The B-side is two tracks split left and right in mono: Third Man Records’ patented ‘three-sided record’. ‘I Believe in Elvis Presley’ BP’s first musical outing, is a nice little ditty with slide guitar and brushed drums. BP tells us through song what he believes in, the cornerstones of his musical faith. ‘BP Fallon Interview’ is a stark and honest conversation between BP and Jack White’s disembodied voice, hovering like a spectre. They discuss Chuck Berry, touring with Zep and the appeal of the Blues.
Wanda Jackson – You Know I’m No Good / Shakin’ All Over 7″
First Loretta, now Wanda. Jack has a penchant for ageing Country music ladies. This 45 features two covers performed by grooving and shaking Wanda Jackson plus backing band. First is Amy Winehouse’s ‘You Know I’m No Good’ which Wanda bellows amid blasts of Mark Ronson-esque trumpets. Imagine Amy being 30 years older and more bitter. ‘Shakin’ All Over’ originally performed by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates, Jackon’s version is a little more modern featuring some Jack White guitar solos and some dramatic pauses which breathe new life into the track.
The first pressing is now sold out but we are assured that Third Man is repressing the single and orders will be honoured.
The Dead Weather – Jawbreaker/No Horse 7″ [Fanclub only]
One of Third Man’s most innovative money spinners is a fan-club delivered through Modblast.com The site founded by Blink-182 guitarist Tom DeLonge. Modlife allows a band to charge for a subscription to exclusive content including streaming video and audio, live webcam feeds, ticket pre-sales and band blogs. As part of Third Man Records’ Vault subscription you not only get access to exclusive content but also a package of exclusive releases in the form of unreleased 7″s, live LPs, t-shirts, slipmats and silkscreened posters.
It was in the first subscription to the Vault that subscribers were treated the first takes of cuts from the new Dead Weather album ‘Sea of Cowards’ on an exclusive 7″ a full 3 months before the album was released.
On the album ‘Jawbreaker’ is one of the Dead Weather’s finest, start/stop organ with some blistering guitar in the bridge from Fertita. Mosshart is on flying form spitting too “I’d call you a heart breaker but I reserve that for nicer things.” This version is more laid back with piano replacing the guitar in an almost stripped down, acoustic version. ‘No Horse’ is a personal favourite from the album, but the first take version is far less evolved than the finished track.
This 7″ is pretty much like listening to a Beatles Anthology track from White, Mosshart & Co. Great stuff, but only exciting/interesting to hardcore fans.
Black Belles – What Can I Do / Lies 7″
Seemingly plucked from obscurity in local Nashville, the Black Belles are a four-piece girl band. All four girls have black hair and pale skin, clearly in the Jack White fan club themselves. Appearing as part of Third Man’s on-going ‘Blue Series’ (a series of singles in the genre of garage-blues-rock with artists photographed on a blue background) the ladies are clad in what appears to be witches hats on the sleeve.
‘What Can I Do’ sounds like something completely at home on ‘Icky Thump’ with organs reminiscent of ‘I’m Slowly Turning into You’ although Meg’s vocal talents couldn’t match these bombshells’. It must be said that there is nothing cooler than a girl who can pull off a slick blues guitar solo. The flip features a reworking of Knickerbockers’ garage gem ‘Lies’ which features some crazy blasts of space echo and would lead you to believe it was an original track of their own.
Carl Sagan – A Glorious Dawn 7″
This is a funny one. Carl Sagan was an American Astronomer and TV personality in the 1980s . He mused on the meaning of life, the nature of the universe and the biggest questions that the galaxy posed. A Youtuber, by the name of John Boswell, remixed an episode of Sagan’s ‘Cosmos: A Personal Voyage’ television show with a snippet of Stephen Hawking talking about the Universe. He autotuned the voices and added some trippy, cosmic music and hey presto- ‘A Glorious Dawn’ was born.
Issued by Third Man on one-sided vinyl, the reverse etched with the diagram as seen on Voyager’s Golden Record. A limited number were also issued on ‘cosmic’ coloured vinyl; black with specs of glow-in-the-dark, resembling the view from the cockpit of the millennium falcon entering hyper-space.
So, if any of this interests you you can buy the tracks from iTunes if you’re new-school and from Third Man Records online store over at Thirdmanrecords.com OR if you find yourself in the Nashville area why not drop by the store? There are plenty of exclusive items available there that you can’t buy online.
Third Man Records
623 7th Ave South