In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of the White Stripes album Elephant, Third Man Records have gone searching underneath couch cushions and in shady back alleys for the perfect Vault package to accompany the label’s reissue of the album.
Of utmost excitement is a red and white vinyl 2 x LP blistering live set by the White Stripes recorded July 2nd, 2003 at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago. Titled Nine Miles From the White City, this 26-song, 79-minute, tour-de-force performance is indicative of the absolute explosiveness Jack and Meg embodied at the height of their 2003 touring. Highlights include a rare live performance of Captain Beefheart’s “Party of Special Things to Do”, an especially frenetic “The Hardest Button to Button” as well as the Stripes Christmas tune “Candy Cane Children.” Hearing “Seven Nation Army” in the middle of a set (and not as a closer or encore where it would soon find itself for the remainder of the band’s career) is a quaint reminder of the inauspicious beginnings of the future stadium anthem. The crystalline soundboard recording is best experienced through the impromptu, off-the-cuff performance of a song written on-the-spot that would come to be called “Little Cream Soda.” The song would be re-discovered (via an audience recording) by Jack and Meg during the recording of their album Icky Thump, dusted off and recorded for what would become the White Stripes final studio album.
Providing rare insight into the demo process, the 7″ in this Vault package features Jack White’s solo demos of the songs “I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother’s Heart” and “Little Acorns” on opaque red vinyl with black whisps enclosed in a red, white and black die-cut sleeve. Accompanied only by his trusty piano (salvaged from a Catholic school in Detroit as it was being shuttered), Jack’s double-tracked vocals lend an otherworldly air to “…Heart.” “Little Acorns,” in the most happy of accidents, pairs a parable spoken by legendary Detroit-area news anchor Mort Crim with White’s germination of a song idea, all through the magic of recycled 1/4″ analog tape. Of special note are White’s previously unheard guide vocals…edited out of the final mix once it would appear on Elephant.
Finally, tying all previous components back to the actual making of Elephant, the “bonus” item for this package is a 56-page collection of photos taken by David Swanson during the recording of the album. With the wonderful Toe-Rag Studio in London as the setting, this peek into the White Stripes’ recording process is both revelatory and intimate. With only three of the fifty-plus images having ever been published before, such a cache of striking images only furthers to cement the depth and breadth of Third Man’s Vault. The live show, the demos and the photos all help to contextualize Elephant, the surroundings it sprung from, the resultant whirlwind it created and all the chaos in-between. Ten years later, it’s a time that still resonates very deeply with everyone at Third Man and we hope you feel so too.
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The White Stripes Nine Miles from the White City tracklist: (LP one on red vinyl, LP two on white)
-When I Hear My Name
-Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
-Love Sick (Bob Dylan)
-Cool Drink of Water Blues (Tommy Johnson)
-The Hardest Button to Button
-I Want to Be the Boy to Warm Your Mother’s Heart
-Stones in My Passway (Robert Johnson)
-Stop Breakin’ Down (Robert Johnson)
-In the Cold, Cold Night
-Seven Nation Army
-The Same Boy You’ve Always Known
-Black Jack Davey (traditional)
-We Are Going to Be Friends
-Offend in Every Way
-Little Cream Soda
-Cannon/Party of Special Things to Do (Captain Beefheart)
-Candy Cane Children
-The Air Near My Fingers
-Ball and Biscuit
-Let’s Build a Home
-Goin’ Back to Memphis (Henry & June)