Published Jun 19, 2013Although Jack White technically conceived of Third Man Records back in the early days of the White Stripes, it wasn't until 2009 that he officially launched the label with its own headquarters. Since then, he's rolled out a steady string of releases from a diverse array of musicians.
What sets Third Man apart from other buzzed-about indie labels is White's commitment to innovative vinyl. Many records have been pressed in extremely limited editions, with standard black vinyl releases complemented by special versions including tri-colour, glow-in-the-dark, and "Texas-sized" 8-inch or 13-inch wax.
Let's leave aside, for a moment, the standout musical moments in Third Man's catalogue. We've left out surprising collaborations and excellent songs in favour of the format-pushing records that really got people talking.
We're going to warn you right now — even though we've dubbed these "must-have" releases, it would be extremely expensive and most likely impossible to actually track them down. Almost all of these were pressed in extremely small numbers, meaning that almost any Third Man collection must necessarily be incomplete.
When possible, we've included videos that show exactly how the records work.
10 Must-Have Vinyl Releases from Jack White's Third Man Records:
10. Liquid-Filled "Sixteen Salteens" 12-inch
Of all the exclusive releases to be unveiled this past Record Store Day, none fetched such high prices on eBay as White's 12-inch single for "Sixteen Salteens," which was pressed on clear vinyl and filled with blue liquid. Some copies went for as much as $3,500. This single might have featured higher on this list had the Flaming Lips not outdone it a few weeks later with a blood-filled record.
9. Karen Elson's Peach-Scented LP
Not only was the Karen Elson's debut album, The Ghost Who Walks, pressed on peach-coloured vinyl, it was also peach-scented. We have no idea how White and his Third Man crew pulled this one off, but it reminds us an awful lot of the days when we were addicted to those scented felt pens back in kindergarten. To date, this is the only piece of vinyl we can think that makes us want to eat it.
8. Double-Grooved Auctioneer 7-Inch
Depending on where you drop the needle on the B-side of this spoken word 7-inch from auctioneer Jerry King, you will hear one of two separate auctions. That's right — there are two separate grooves on one side of the record. This isn't the first time in vinyl history this has been done, but we still have a hard time wrapping our heads around how this is physically possible.
7. The Dead Weather's Hidden Tracks
Thought that hidden tracks were a relic of the CD era? Think again. After White's band the Dead Weather released their sophomore album, Sea of Cowards, fans discovered secret songs on the vinyl. These tracks were pressed on the inner label, which is a truly ingenious trick that we don't recall ever witnessing before.