Monday, June 16, 2014

"Jack White is vinyl's best friend:" Third Man's Deluxe Lazaretto ULTRA LP (wax review)


Whether or not you're a fan of The White Stripes, The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather, or his recent work with Neil Young, you really can't deny the sheer impact that Jack White's own Nashville-based Third Man Records has had on the vinyl record industry or the modern day Blues-Rock revival in recent years. Entirely intentional or not, White has single-handedly helped usher in the 21st century resurgence of the age-old waxed medium; the former Record Store Day ambassador has gotten involved in a number of unique record-centric projects including producing Young's latest covers album, A Letter Home from inside a 1940's Voice-o-Graph portable recording studio and somehow managed to record, press, and sell the world's fastest record in record-breaking time this past Record Store Day. While Jack White's second solo album, Lazaretto was released last Tuesday, June 10th, I was lucky enough to receive my pre-ordered "ULTRA LP" the weekend prior to it's official release. The Roots band leader Questlove [Gomez] perfectly described the underlying sentiment behind Third Man's special edition package as, "dude. Jack White is vinyl's best friend. I'mma cop 20 copies of #Lazaretto. y'all ain't gonna believe what he hooked up @thirdmanrecords," in 140 characters or less, of course. It's honestly the most intricate, inter-active vinyl I've ever seen and trust me, I've seen a lot of vinyl in my record diggin' days! While Third Man's creative team might not have exactly invented all of the special features etched into Lazaretto, it's definitely the first time the greater record-buying public has seen this kinda thing on such a large scale. Jack White and fellow Third Man Records employee Ben Blackwell quickly outlined a few of Lazaretto "ULTRA LP"'s cutting-edge features in a 9-minute promotional video; Side A essentially plays in reverse from the outside in and end with an infinite locked groove (as does Side B), Lazaretto as a whole is a 3-speed record... playing at 33 1/3, 45, and 78 RPM, "Just One Drink" utilizes dual-groove technology and features either an acoustic or electric intro, relevant to where the needle is dropped, 2 vinyl-only hidden tracks are etched below the center labels, and Side A features a hand-etched "floating hologram" angel. Lazaretto itself features a different running order than the CD/digital versions and "absolutely zero compression [was] used during recording, mixing, and mastering." It's a great modern day Blues-Rock record and whether you were into The White Stripes or not, Third Man's special edition "ULTRA LP" is without a doubt worth $20; I recently ordered a second copy because I know one is libel to get scratched up while I'm attempting to discover it's countless special components!

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