Posts Tagged ‘Third Man Records’

discogs-indie-label-dig

Online music marketplace Discogs has just launched the Discogs Daily Dig, an initiative to support indie record labels during the coronavirus pandemic. Each day they will focus on a different indie label that will sell rarities, test pressings, out-of-print releases, and back catalouge through Discogs. It started today (5/5) with Numero Group and here’s the first week’s schedule:

  • Tuesday, May 5 – Numero Group
  • Wednesday, May 6 – Captured Tracks
  • Thursday, May 7 – Burger Records
  • Friday, May 8 – Trouble In Mind
  • Saturday, May 9 – Stones Throw
  • Sunday, May 10 – Drag City
  • Monday, May 11 – Third Man Records

Dear Life

“There’s something about this record,” Benson says, describing his Third Man Records debut album “Dear Life”. “A friend of mine called it ‘life-affirming.’ I thought it was a joke at first but then realized, well, it’s about life and death for sure. I don’t know if that’s positive or optimistic or whatever, but that’s what’s going on with me.”

Brendan Benson finds himself in an enviable spot as he enters the third decade of a remarkably creative, consistently idiosyncratic career – an accomplished frontman, musician, songwriter, producer, band member, husband, and dad. Benson’s seventh solo album, and first new LP in almost seven years, “Dear Life” is this consummate polymath’s most inventive and upbeat work thus far, an 11- track song cycle about life,  love, family, fatherhood, and the pure joy of making music.

Produced and almost entirely performed by Benson at his own Readymade Studio in Nashville, the album sees the Michigan-born, Nashville-based artist – and co-founder, with Jack White, of The Raconteurs – reveling in a more modernist approach than ever before, fueled by a heady brew of cannabis, hip-hop, and a newly discovered interest in software drum programming.

The result is an untapped playfulness that elevates expertly crafted songs like the opener, “I Can If You Want Me To,” and the first  single, “Good To Be Alive,” with voluble arrangements, elastic grooves, and incandescent power. Imbued with revitalized ambition and confidence, DEAR LIFE is Brendan Benson at his very best.

A more-fitting sentiment we cannot conjure and is the perfect stage banter quote from Jack White to introduce the triple-LP live recording culling the best of the best from the Raconteurs recent three night stand at the legendary Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Oklahoma from October 2019.

As the Raconteurs are allegedly the first band to ever sell out three consecutive shows at Cain’s Ballroom, it was only fitting to mark the occasion by recording each night, culling only the best of each of those performances, and fusing them together for a career-spanning, masterwork of an album.

Highlighting recent entries in their catalog like the infectious “Help Me Stranger” and the whirling “Bored and Razed” while paying deference to momentous sing-alongs like “Carolina Drama” and “Steady, As She Goes” to absolutely mind-bending, room-levitating blues expression via “Blue Veins” and even then you’re only just scratching the surface.

Captured at the pinnacle of the band’s touring behind their chart topping album Help Us Stranger, the electrifying live performances place a raw, unbound energy behind the entire breadth of the band’s catalog, including gems from their 2008 LP Consolers of the Lonely and their 2006 debut Broken Boy Soldiers.

Housed in a magnificent tri-fold jacket and appropriating the Matthew Jacobson-designed artwork which highlights the Art Deco frieze of the Tulsa Fire Alarm building (which was used for the three Cain’s concert posters) and pressed on vibrant copper, green and black colored vinyl…the whole shebang is truly something to behold.

The fitting companion piece to this explosive 3xLP is the intimate performance of Raconteurs’ dual frontmen Brendan Benson and Jack White performing as a duo on July 9th 2019.

Shot at Third Man Records Cass Corridor storefront on White’s 44th birthday, the jam-packed room still only fitting 300 attendees, Brendan and Jack laid out sparse, explorative takes on not only Raconteurs songs, but other classics from their expansive back catalogs. Performances of Raconteurs faves like “Only Child” and “Now That You’re Gone” sound unlike any other version before or since, while the vibe propelling songs like the White Stripes “Sugar Never Tasted So Good” or Benson’s “Metarie” are reminiscent of times back when these two guys would just goof around in Detroit dive bars while a handful of uninterested patrons pretended to not be bothered by their racket.

About that…as a bonus to the mutli-camera, HD, Blu-Ray, 4k, 16-channel audio with super crystal clear capture of the above-mentioned performance, it felt fitting to tack on the ultra lo-fi, camcorder and condenser microphone capture of the first-ever performance of Jack White and Brendan Benson together. Playing for free at the Garden Bowl Lounge in Detroit on March 14th, 1999, the gig shows the two as if without a care in the world, having a blast and rolling through songs of which only TWO had been released by that point. An intimate, charming artifact of a simpler time.

And for the record, Pink Floyd’s “Fearless” was performed at BOTH of these shows, twenty years apart but no less magnificent.

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Raconteurs FAME

The Raconteurs perform “Now That You’re Gone” from their latest album “Help Us Stranger” and a cover of “I’m Your Puppet” at the historic FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL.

“I’m Your Puppet” was written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, both members of the acclaimed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section group of session players — also called The Swampers — that originated at FAME. The song was a hit in 1966 for James & Bobby Purify. The Raconteurs – Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler – included “Now That You’re Gone” on their recently released studio album.

Yak 'Atlas Complex EP' 10"

The EP, largely recorded at the Third Man Studio and released on Friday 1st November 2019 through Virgin EMI and Third Man Records, follows on from the release of their critically acclaimed second album Pursuit of Momentary Happiness earlier this year. Frontman Oli Burslem explains, “‘Atlas Complex’ was recorded between Nashville and South London at the beginning of this summer. The “atlas complex” is centred around an idea of losing all sense of everything. It’s a state of mind in which a person believes that the world is on their shoulders and they’re unable to deal with what they perceive as endless problems and uncertainty.”  Following the release of Pursuit of Momentary Happiness, the trio completed a month long UK and European tour, followed by 18 dates supporting Foals and performances at Glastonbury and Green Man festivals.

In November they’ll play another run of headlines shows across the UK. Press: •“More refined and guttural, Yak show real intent on flourishing their sound.” – Clash  •“Yak are riotous and impossible to tame on their new LP.” – The Line of Best Fit 8/10 • “The trio’s second album is excessive but searches for contentment.” – NME.com 4/5.

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10” black  vinyl, spined outer sleeve, white inner sleeve.

The White Stripes' 1999 debut

Jack White will mark the 20th anniversary of The White Stripes’ self-titled debut with a new companion vinyl release.

The White Stripes XX (as its called) contains previously-unheard outtakes from the album’s recording sessions, a live recording of a September 1999 performance in Raleigh, NC, a DVD containing performance footage of two Michigan shows that year, a 24-page archival booklet featuring never-before-seen photos, lyrics, flyers, and other insights, all housed in a hard-cover hinged case.

The cache of unreleased material includes an acoustic demo of “Dead Leaves”, alternate takes of “Jimmy the Exploder”, “I Fought Piranhas”, and “Wasting My Time”, and cover of Burt Bacharach’s “Little Red Book” (listen to a sample here). Burt Bacharach and Hal David may have written “Little Red Book” for the film What’s New Pussycat?, but Love’s version (their 1965 debut single) was clearly the inspiration for The White Stripes’ cover, which will be on the 20th Anniversary Box set for their debut album. Jack and Meg play this like they wrote it.

Other rarities include versions of “Screwdriver”, “Sugar Never Tasted So Good”, and “”Why Can’t You Be Nicer to Me?”. All of these tracks were newly mixed by White in celebration of the album’s 20th anniversary.

The White Stripes XX is available through Third Man Records’ Vault subscription program. You can get more info and sign up here.

In related news, Jack White is presently touring the country with his other acclaimed rock band, The Raconteurs.

white stripes podcast, striped podcast, third man records podcast, white stripes striped, white stripes

The White Stripes played their final concert at the Snowden Grove Amphitheater in Southaven, Mississippi 12 years ago. Now, their full recorded performance is accessible for the first time ever, The White Stripes: Live in Mississippi is available to stream and download via Nugs.net, and it features the band’s 20-song set from July 31st, 2007, along with a four-song encore. Tracks include “Icky Thump,” “In the Cold, Cold Night,” “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground,” and more.

The White Stripes’ archivist and Third Man Records co-founder Ben Blackwell posted a statement on Nugs.net recalling the group’s final performance, and the moment he realized it would be their last. Find Blackwell’s full post along with the White Stripes’ hand-written setlist from the show here.

“I can’t even tell you how much it means for me to be here tonight…so I’m not even gonna bother”

Jack White, July 31st, 2007

Not long after I walked offstage as the hired-gun drummer for opening act Dan Sartain, an assortment of crew and musicians and friends gathered together and took part in a celebratory, raise-the-glass toast, all led by Jack White to mark the end of the run of nine shows in the previous ten days.

As the crowd thinned, Meg White and I were the last ones left standing there. Apropos of nothing, cups in hand, not even in a conversation at that point, Meg said to me, “I think this is the last White Stripes show.” Confused, I responded “Well, yeah, last show of this leg of the tour.” She replied “No…I think this is the last White Stripes show ever” and slowly walked away. I was dumbfounded. I had no idea what she was talking about. I had no idea what she meant.  I had no idea what to do. I looked around to see if anyone else heard what Meg had said, but I was all alone.

Within minutes, the band was onstage. The White Stripes had never played Mississippi prior to this performance and it’s clear the deep musical heritage of the state loomed large in Jack’s mind as he attacked the performance setlist-free.

“Stop Breaking Down” was an unexpected opening song. Despite being released in 1999, it had only opened a set once before, just three weeks earlier. The inspiration behind that first opening performance was the band headlining the Ottawa Bluesfest, being met with newspaper headlines that asked “Are the White Stripes bluesy enough to headline Bluesfest?” Seems as Jack’s intention of starting both these shows with the Robert Johnson classic was to leave no doubt to a skeptical homegrown audience of armchair connoisseurs or a lazy Canadian newspaper editor that the band was well-within their powers conveying the blues to the masses.  All that was only further buoyed by Jack later throwing in an unexpected tease of another Robert Johnson song “Phonograph Blues” to assuredly placate the ghosts of the Mississippi Delta.

Inspired, one-of-a-kind takes on both “As Ugly As I Seem” and “Astro” now jump out to me as beautifuleach song’s last hurrah from the band that birthed them. Exploratory adventures the both of them, proving that no piece was ever finished or finalized or etched into stone. Rather, they were all living, creative works, changing and adapting over the years and begging to be recorded and shared and analyzed by all of you reading this right now.

Jack began the encore by himself, pouring every last drop of feeling and emotive vocal quiver into a solo offering of “300 MPH Torrential Outpour Blues” that was achingly bare. The raw force behind it feels beyond naked…as if Jack had pulled back his own skin to reveal his truest, innermost thoughts, particularly when he changed the lyrics on the fly and sang…

“See there’s three women in my mind that know they have the answer, but they’re not letting go…

What else is new? I’m the only one that seems to care where I should go”

After re-listening to this show for the first time in ages, I feel like only now have I fully absorbed the enormity of that line. Frankly, it just hit me like a freight train to the chest. I was caught entirely off-guard. I couldn’t help but be moved to tears.

Moments like that make me feel this show is the audio manifestation of opposing, equally-powered forces clawing for control of my brain in an id-versus-ego battle of monumental proportions. On one end I’m mourning, absolutely fucking hurt that this huge presence in my life, my occasional reason for being, my family both by blood and by choice…just ceased to be. And yet at the other end, I am so goddamned lucky that the White Stripes ever existed at all…that people even paid attention, that the band was able to make a lucrative career out of their passion, out of art and that I had a side-stage seat to the entirety of their existence.

After the completion of a bombastic, career-defining version of “Death Letter”, Jack poignantly says “Son House, thank you for finally letting me come home.” House was a passive participant in this matter, having died in the band’s hometown of Detroit in 1988. But Jack’s comment has seemingly little to do with any physical structure…what he is saying is that Son House (and to a larger extent, blues music in general) provided both he and Meg with an avenue to pursue their artistic vision. In this sense, home is not spoken in the predominant, noun usage of the word to describe where one lives, but rather in a more colloquial, adverbial sense meaning ‘deep, to the heart.’

In short, the blues is home. The blues provides comfort, the blues provides center, the blues provides foundation.  It provides a manner to express one’s feelings, both a connection to the past and a path through the future.

Ending the set with Leadbelly’s “Boll Weevil” and the singalong chorus repeating “he’s looking for a home” only further drives this point, well…home. The White Stripes were only able to become THE WHITE STRIPES because of the blues. Able to find their voices, to spread the word in a way that was seeming antithetical to two white kids born in Detroit in the 1970’s.  Blues was the language, not chosen, but seemingly divined, to best communicate themselves, to express, to converse, to paint this masterpiece. Upon the completion of the set, with a backdrop of Who-like synth arpeggiations singing out into the night, Jack sincerely says the following…

“I can’t believe how long it has taken us to get here. Thanks for waiting. Thanks for coming. Thanks for buying our records. Thanks for buying a ticket. We love you very much. Thank you. God bless you Son House. God bless you Robert Johnson. Thank you so much.”

I can think of no better epilogue for Jack to punctuate the White Stripes last-ever live performance. Each thought a simple sentence that, upon closer inspection, opens up to a wider meaning…not just spoken to these folks in suburban Memphis on a Tuesday night. Rather, they speak to all their fans across the world. About the journey. About patience. About action. About appreciation. About presence. About gratitude. And ultimately, about the blues. Which is, arguably, all it was ever about.

In the intervening twelve years I’ve had countless conversations with Meg White. And I have never once, not for a moment, even considered asking her what was going through her head that night in Mississippi. To me, she has found her home and that is all that matters.

What would YOU do if half of your favorite band told you (and ONLY you) it would be their last show immediately prior to taking the stage?

The White Stripes recently also announced a 20th anniversary box set reissue of their self-titled debut.

Jack White’s been so commonly associated with rock ‘n’ roll over the years that it’s been easy to overlook the fact that he often works similar to how dance producers do. For starters, there’s nothing more explicitly tied to how dance music operates than running your own label to put out releases from yourself and others — and more broadly, since emerging at the turn of the century with his and Meg White’s beloved, now defunct White Stripes, White’s dipped in and out of various projects that more or less function as monikers under which he explores certain sounds.

White unearths or returns to these projects when the mood suits him, and they often bear their own distinct sonic identity. Besides the White Stripes’ arty blues-punk, he’s unleashed jet-black scuzziness with the Kills’ Alison Mosshart as the Dead Weather, embraced an anything-goes mentality with the music released under his own name, and tilted towards country-rock windmills with power-pop whiz Brendan Benson and members of defunct Detroit garage-rock act the Greenhornes as the Raconteurs.

White’s choosing to unearth this month a new Raconteurs’ album the bands third, “Help Us Stranger”. It’s the first album from the group in 11 years and barring the fact that it’s been nigh impossible to predict the machinations behind White’s own creative internal clock, the timing for him to return to more straightforward rock territory is impeccable.

White has effectively split the difference between his last solo album Boarding House Reach’s adventurousness and the band’s past trad-classic rock trappings, the results coming across as appealingly low-stakes. After a series of solo albums that, even at their strongest moments, possessed a nervy atmosphere not unlike grinding one’s teeth, Help Us Stranger is comparatively loose and limber, making for the most collection of songs White’s released in years.

Credit is due to Benson, who  as with 2006’s Broken Boy Soldiers and the 2008 quick-turnaround Consolers of the Lonely shares writing credits with White on almost every Help Me Stranger track. Just like Consolers, the sole song he doesn’t is a cover; this time around it’s a rollicking take on psych-pop shaman Donovan’s “Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness).” But That’s pretty much the only element that Help Me Stranger shares with Consolers; while the latter sagged from an overlong run time, the Raconteurs’ latest is a comparatively lean and mean 41 minutes, with brisk arrangements and more than a few grin-inducing breakdowns such as the double-time frenzy that closes out the boys-in-the-band opener “Bored And Razed.”

There’s a distinctly stoned silliness to parts of Help Me Stranger, none more evident than on the “Misty Mountain Hop”-ping “Only Child,” in which White sings about a “prodigal son” who’s “come back home again to get his laundry done.” Otherwise, the playfulness streaked across this album is mostly of the musical variety, like the multi-tracked vocals dotting the verse structure on “Don’t Bother Me” or the Tell-tale Heart-esque pulse that courses through “Now That You’re Gone.” There are guitar solos packed into nearly every empty corner of this thing, and plenty of the aggressively hammered piano lines that were so prevalent on Boarding House Reach, the latter playing much more enjoyably to the ears than on that record.

Suffice to say, if none of these sonic elements or the idea of four guys bashing out melodic rock music that nonetheless treads familiar ground — sound appealing to you, then you’re probably better off listening to nearly anything else. But the lack of formal innovation on Help Me Stranger packs its own odd appeal, especially when the old tricks are so capably performed. “Live A Lie” is straight-ahead Motor City garage rock that, ironically, bears some resemblance to once-White nemesis the Von Bondies’ “C’mon C’mon”; the guitar riff that kicks open on “Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)” recalls Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Happy Gilmore-closing “Tuesday’s Gone,” its midsection breaking into a gooey Beatles-esque breakdown.

Such callbacks to classic rock’s, er, classics inevitably bring to mind Greta Van Fleet, that shaggy-haired band of industry-beloved youngsters who’ve gained equal parts fame and critical consternation for joylessly regurgitating the entire Led Zeppelin catalog But there’s nothing that White and Benson have cooked up on Help Me Stranger that sounds like genre-reliant clock-punching; instead, they make playing around in the classic-rock sandbox sound like so much fun that you have to wonder why it took them eleven years to get back in the habit together. Hopefully, next time around they’ll make a point of getting together again sooner.

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Released June 21st, 2019 ,
2019, 2019 Third Man Records, LLC

Jack White and Brendan Benson’s group The Raconteurs are hitting the road for the first time in years, and are dropping their first album in over a decade “Help Us Stranger” this coming June. The Grammy-winning Nashville based powerhouse teased fans in December with two tracks from the record, and have now they have unveiled a third cut ‘Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)‘, a punchy reimagining of Scottish psychedelic folk singer Donovan‘s 1965 song. The Raconteurs‘ rendition inserts a heavy dose of garage punk heft into the tune, while retaining the stripped back original’s lusty soul. enjoy their cover of ‘Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)’ version below…

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released April 10th, 2019
2019, 2019 Third Man Records, LLC