Friday, June 15, 2007

The ten best White Stripes songs you've (probably) never heard

Early on in their career The White Stripes were quite fond of releasing vinyl singles that were limited to a certain number of copies. If you keep an eye on a few eBay auctions you can usually score one or more of those old records, for the right price of course. Luckily if you look in the right places these days you can find most of that obscure material in a digital-friendly format. Some of the tracks you'll find sound like they were b-sides for a good reason, but there are a handful of rare Stripes tracks that would actually be worth the price you would have to pay to pick them up on vinyl. I have listened through all of the lesser-known tracks that I could possibly get my hands on, and now that I'm back from last week's hiatus I'll be sharing the ones I feel are the ten best.

The first 5:

History: During their 2005/06 tour the White Stripes sold a small record player at their merch stand. These Triple Inchophones were the trademark red & white of the band and did not sell too well at first, until Jack explained exactly what they were on the bands' official site. The record players were made by a Japanese company called 8-ball Bandai. These record players could only play 3-inch records. When Jack and Meg White invested in buying the machines from the company they were led to believe there were many units ready for distribution; in fact, the company had destroyed all but 400 of their units.

The White Stripes proceeded to buy these remaining 400 units and sell them on tour along with a set of specially made 3-inch singles. The cost price of a unit at the shows was between 120 $. The inchophone can now fetch up to 850 $ among collectors.

Jack remastered and remixed six of the White Stripes previous releases into a 3-inch format for release with the Triple Inchophone. These included Hotel Yorba, Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground, Fell in Love with a Girl, Seven Nation Army, The Hardest Button to Button (with an alternative sleeve), and Blue Orchid (also with an alternative sleeve). Also produced was a previously unreleased track, "Top Special", only ever released in the 3-inch format. The "Top Special" single was rumoured to be limited to only 100 copies. So not even everyone who bought an inchophone got a "Top Special". However recent sources confirm that 1000 copies of every 3" single were produced including the Denial Twist AND Top Special. The term "top special" was reported to be Japanese slang for "best friend", while it is actually a Northern British euphemism.

History: "Party of Special Things to Do" is a single by The White Stripes, which is a cover of a song by Captain Beefheart, whose music was a catalyst in Jack White's distinct musical sound. Released in December 2000, the 7" record also contains two other Captain Beefheart covers. It was released as part of the Sub Pop Singles Club in a limited edition pressing of 1300 records on half red, half white vinyl.

History: "Lafayette Blues" is a single by The White Stripes. However, only "Sugar Never Tasted So Good" appeared on the bands eponymous debut album, The White Stripes. 1,000 copies were released in October of 1998 (see 1998 in music) on white vinyl. In 2001 a second edition of 1000 black vinyl were released.

The lyrics of "Lafayette Blues" are a list of French names of streets in the band's hometown of Detroit, Michigan. Although the lyrics have changed over time, and are not always sung the same way, here is how they are recited on the recorded version: "Marantette, Leverette, Lannette, Lafayette, Livernois, Labrosse, Louis, Metatal, Rochelle, Marcelle, Riopelle, Manistique, and Armour, ohh, ohh, hmmmmmmm, Mercier, Le May, Tournier, Salliote, and Le Roy, Montlieu, Cadieux, Neveaux Avenue En Detroit, well I'm ready teddy, I'm ready, ready teddy to, rock & roll. Lamphere, Belle Terre, Marcelle, Metetal, Rouge, Le Blanc."

History: This is a Brendan Benson cover of a track from his 2002 album titled Lapalco. So far this cover has only been found on the 7 Nation Army 7'' single and the 7 Nation Army CD single that also features another b-side titled "Black Jack Davey."

History: First released in 2000 on a split 7'' with fellow Detroit rockers The Dirtbombs, it was made available via Extra Ball Records and given away for free inside copies of Multiball Magazine #19. Later released on the Hot Pinball Rock Vol. 1 CD with the alternate spelling of "Hand Springs," again in 2002 on the White Blood Cells Bonus Tracks CDEP, as well as on import versions of White Blood Cells.


The second 5:

One of my favorite tunes, and by far the best version of it that I have ever heard. Turn the volume up, up, up. Originally recorded on the BBC's Radio 1, it was released on the Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground 7" and CDEP in 2002.Another of the Captain Beefheart covers that was released on the 7'' along with "Party of Special Things To Do." The original version was released on the 1969 double-album titled Trout Mask Replica.
This is the Blind Willie McTell cover that I've heard a few different live versions of, but until recently I had never heard the 7'' version that was released by Sympathy For The Record Industry in 2000.
Quoted: "In her heyday, Lynn was no stranger to controversy. She had more banned songs than any other artist in the history of country music, including "Rated X", about the double standards divorced women face." Originally released in 1973 on her Entertainer of the Year album, this version was released in 2001 on the Hotel Yorba 7'' and CD single.This somewhat odd track was followed by the even stranger "Who's A Big Baby?" on the "Blue Orchid" 7'' and CD single from 2005.


Doug said...

awesome! Thanks CC. Now, just choosing between WS and Arcade Fire.

Jon said...

Great post! I love stuff like this. Thank you!

Anna said...

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

another person who does a great cover of rated X is neko case on her tigers have spoken live cd.

Anonymous said...

And don't forget about the Redd Blood Cells project with Steven (White) McDonald.

Mr. Curiosity said...

Hey thanks for the feedback guys & gals.

Doug, good to hear from you. Was afraid you were washed away by the rapids or something. I think that the AF vs WS time slot will be the toughest choice out of all the good ones that overlap at ACL. I'm glad they're putting good acts up against each other, that should even the crowd out nicely.

Anonymous said...

The White Stripes are (were :() just brilliant. All these songs are great and find it difficult to pick a favourite.