Third Man Records: Vinyl Strikes Back!

Third Man Records Helps Vinyl and Show Posters Strike Back

Andrew Olson

Reader Weekly

Vinyl is something that hangs around and continues to charm new generations of audiophiles each year.

Local rocker Mark Lindquist fights for the archaic grooves of sound and presses a few of his Little Black Books’ or other hits in small vinyl runs. I found one just the other day in the used 7” bin at the Electric Fetus with a harder version of their hit tune, “They’re Never Wrong.” The crackles and turning sound always give music warmth that an MP3 will never have.

One national recording artist who is really making a push for records to rebound in popularity is Jack White of The White Stripes, Raconteurs, and Dead Weather fame. Taking an idea from labels like Sub Pop and other subscription vinyl peddlers of the past, he has really brought back the popularity of the classic album.

For the last week or two I’ve been obsessed with The White Stripes cover of Captain Beefheart’s song, “The Party of Special Things to Do.” It was released originally under the Sub Pop label for their record club back in the early 2000s, but today it sells for $250+ on the internet. The song can be heard on places like in a very low-fi style, but to hear it on vinyl would be amazing.

Third Man Records, White’s studio and production company, produces records from artists under their label and even a few outside of their wings. One example would be The Velvet Underground having a few pressings done of their albums and even in crazy colors.

Most albums are black, but what is cool about Third Man is that they are making tri-colored records. The rarer ones are selling for hundreds of dollars already on auction sites like EBay. The Third Man’s quarterly Vault packages resell for several hundreds of dollars despite only being around a few years.

In TMR Vault Package #7 there was a tri-colored rerelease of “Party of Special Things” on vinyl that sells individually for between $50 and $99 on the net. It is difficult to enjoy playing a record at that price as you are buying it to make more of an investment than for the sound. I have an awesome tri-color 7” from the New Yorkperformance of Stephen Colbert with the Black Belles.

White’s Third Man Records uses a van they call a “Rolling Record Store” to arrive and sell their wares at shows and events. The cool thing about Colbert’s tri-color 45 is that it was done in red, white, and blue. He and Jack White hung around after they sang the National Anthem together on a makeshift stage and signed anything purchased from the Third Man Rolling Record Store.

Third Man recently released Vault Package #8 a week ago that has a 2 LP live show from the very last White Stripes performance in 07’, an early White Stripes tune on a 45 and a DVD of a 2000 performance from Moorhead, MN. The DVD is what I think is the coolest as it was filmed at a small venue with only a handful of people in attendance. The other cool aspect is that it is from a performance in our motherland ofMinnesota… Something that didn’t happen much for the popular Detroit duo.

As far as I had read the White Stripes only played in Minnesota twice, but with this new DVD would make it three times. I was in attendance for their 2005 show at the Orpheum Theater and was blown away by Jack and Meg White’s magnetic chemistry on stage. She is hot on the drums and he signals to her throughout their performance using head nods and mirrors. The music and show from my 7th row seat made it a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The White Stripes were the first band to release a CD after 2000 that I could listen to all the way through and not skip B-sides. Seeing them live cemented them as my favorite band of all time (as of now).

When The White Stripes announced their tour schedule for 2007, Thunder Bay was on the list and so was Fargo. My wife and I, as huge fans, decided on the Fargo show as getting our passports updated was a lot of work and there didn’t seem to be enough time. The sad result of our decision was that Meg had a break down at the end of their Canadian leg of the tour and the band called it quits before the Fargo show.

A few years after that 05’ show I learned there was a show poster that was sold there.

Which brings me to the other cool thing about many concerts today, collecting show posters. Many artists are going back to the roots of rock and creating a few hundred or fewer show posters to sell at many bands’ performances. What I wondered was how I could have missed such a poster for sale at The White Stripes concert?

In the mid-1990s I began to collect old concert posters from the 1960s, but today I realize I should have been grabbing more from around me at that time too. I initially thought that only the old ones would be valuable, which so far has proven true, except in the case of The White Stripes’ concert poster guru Rob Jones and a few other modern artists’.

Usually when you attend a concert there are two types of fans at the front of the line now a days. Those who want to rush to the front-center of the venue and those who rush to the merchandise counter to buy the band’s merchandise. My wife and I try to work as a team, which as I type this sounds geeky, but we are kind of veteran concertgoers by now.

It wasn’t until I went to The Dead Weather’s show in 09’ at First Avenue that I first saw a Jack White related show poster. I bought one immediately and after the show while getting a few quotes for my review my wife had the band sign the poster. It was done by Aesthetic Apparatus out of the Twin Cities and was an overlayed lithograph done much like my 1960s posters that I had collected.

A few days later when I went on EBay and looked up The White Stripes I learned that Rob Jones had been making show posters for The White Stripes since back in 03’. I still didn’t find out there was a show poster from that 05’ Minneapolis performance I had attended until much later though. It happened when I was looking around The White Stripes website and found a page with set lists from shows they had played over the years. At the top of the show I had attended in 05’ there was this very beautiful Rob Jones creation. It featured a woman looking sadly toward the sky while her heart had a thunderbolt ripping out of it. It was of course in The White Stripes trademark colors of red and white.

Recently I learned from a Rob Jones enthusiast that the reason why I didn’t see a show poster at the Minneapolis performance that I attended in 05’ was because I was at the second evening show of their doubleheader. All of the 165 posters created for the show sold out on the first night and were sold for around $40.

Most people would be ok with this, but it became a mission for me to find that poster.

So year after year I would watch EBay and each time the poster sold it was for much more money than I was comfortable paying ($260+). It just didn’t seem right that a show poster for The White Stripes from 2005 could be worth the same amount of money as one for Jefferson Airplane from way back in 1968. Other show posters can sell for even more than that with an 03’ Paris White Stripes Rob Jones print going for over a thousand dollars recently.

Eventually after being tenacious I found the two lost Raconteurs’ show posters from the shows I had attended for $15 each and The White Stripes one for a slightly more reasonable price. I still had to pay more than I was comfortable with, but sentimental value and very beautiful art are sometimes worth it.

One side story here on show posters. Back in 2008 Queens of the Stone Age playedDuluth at the DECC and it was an amazing show. I begged the woman behind the counter for the poster advertising the show, but it was already promised to someone she knew. While looking up Duluth on the website: one day I came across a show poster from that QOTSA show. As I researched I found out that there was a show poster created, but the stories that I read said that they were sent to Duluth,Georgia, and missed the show. Eventually one listed on EBay for $25 and the story behind it was that someone had grabbed it out of a dumpster. It isn’t mint, but it is a cool poster. So I bought it.

SkatRadioh creates the top local show posters in this area and has been successful considering that it is a tough business. It is hard to convince buyers at a Luce’ show to shell out $12 for a poster of a band, but Skat does it.

He does most of his posters on black paper and utilizes a lot of the techniques of the classic lithographers. SkatRadioh has a mural of posters up at UMD behind glass by the Tweed and also has a few at the Fetus and Ragstock.