Jack White recently broke a record for the fastest ever creation of a vinyl cut, by recording the title track to his new album Lazaretto, then pressing it to wax and packaging it all in less than four hours. Now, his vinyl-based conjuring continues with the announcement of an ‘Ultra’ LP version of the album, which comes packed with bizarre curiosities.
The 11-track album on White’s label Third Man Records, includes different mixes and sequencing to the digital version, and will play at 33.3rpm as normal. However two secret tracks hidden in the centre label will play at 45 and 78rpm respectively – a repeat of the trick White pulled with his Dead Weather supergroup and their album Sea of Cowards.
Side A meanwhile demands that you place the needle on the inside of the record as it works its way outward, eventually getting caught in a perpetual locked groove at the outer edge (the more jaded White fan might suggest that you won’t be able to tell when said groove begins). The first song on Side B however, has two different intros, one acoustic and one electric, which differ depending on where the needle is dropped. The two grooves then blend into one halfway through the song.
If that wasn’t enough to play with, there is also a hologram on Side A hand-etched by artist Tristan Duke, featuring a spinning angel appearing to float in the blank area between the groove and the label. Side B is given a matte finish so it resembles a shellac 78rpm record.
“We’ve pulled off a lot of interesting ideas all within this one LP,” White says in an introductory video, adding how he thinks that the locked groove, the three speeds within one record, the dual groove, and the hologram vinyl extras have never been attempted before, but with a caveat: “Of course there’s no knowing unless you go through every record ever made.”
This release is far from the first innovation that Third Man has attempted. They’ve printed records on old medical X-rays, created ‘Texas-sized’ 8-inch and 13-inch vinyls, and encased 7-inch singles within 12-inch albums that need to be destroyed to access the secret record. 2013’s collaborative release with Revenant Records, that compiled the bluegrass, gospel and blues songs released by Paramount Records in the 1920s, was housed in a velvet-lined oak cabinet with LPs kept inside a “laser-etched white birch LP folio” and digital files stored on a brass USB stick.
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