Suck It Hipsters: Jack White ‘Lazaretto’
I really need to start off by saying that I know some hipsters, and they’re usually good people. There are neighborhoods in America where the ‘hipsters’ have moved in and revitalized the area. BUT, there are neighborhoods that ‘hipsters’ have ruined. Literally, and metaphorically. The title of this blog is to address the metaphoric neighborhood of vinyl records. I love collecting vinyl, listening to vinyl, and talking about vinyl. But my collection is made of what I like, and I like it because its good, not because its trendy, which is where most of us and hipsters find our fork in the road. They like things that suck strictly because they’re obscure (looking at you Pitchfork). Anyway, this blog series isn’t about bashing hipsters, its about MY vinyl collection...which most hipsters would hate (because it’s too mainstream) and to that I say “Suck It Hipsters”.
This is my first blog for this series, and I’m writing it the night of the 57th Grammy Awards, so let me sidenote on that; The Grammys are a giant joke. Once in a while they’ll get it right with a nod to the Foo Fighters or Halestorm, but for the most part, they screw it up. Tonight they gave the Best Metal Performance award to Tenacious D for a Dio cover. That sums it up.
Back on track, the reason I bring up that the Grammys are on, is because they did award Best Rock Performance to the guy/album I’m going to hit on here. Jack White’s ‘Lazaretto’ won a Grammy tonight, and out of the songs nominated, it should have. Now you can argue that other songs should have been there, and he would have lost to them, and I will FULLY agree, but just for the hell of it, let’s focus that he won.
The song ‘Lazaretto’ is off the album of the same name, which is the album I’m talking about in this post. This was a great album musically, but the most impressive parts about the LP weren’t even the audio. This pressing packs every little trick you can think of into the physical album. Well, as long as you get the Ultra version, which thankfully, I did.
Here’s a short list of the features this version offers:
two exclusive ‘hidden’ tracks under the label
a hologram angel appears when the album is spun
one side of the album plays backwards
there are additional ‘hidden’ tracks when the album is played at different speeds
one side has a matte finish
each song offers two intros, where you drop the needle determines which you get
the song order differs from the CD version
some mixes of songs are different than on the CD/Digital version
All of these little tricks created big interest in the vinyl version of the album. There were 40,000 copies sold in the first week, which is the most vinyl albums sold in a single week since they started monitoring the statistic. It beat Pearl Jam’s ‘Vitalogy’ which sold 34,000 copies in 1994. Strong sales numbers have continued for the album, and it has become the highest selling vinyl LP since SoundScan began monitoring the statistic.
Musically this album stands up to anything released in 2014. I have friends who wouldn’t be considered Jack White fans, or even White Stripe fans, who were impressed with songs like the title track ‘Lazaretto’. The song ‘Alone In My Home’ is another highlight off the album. With the additional tricks added to the Ultra LP, you can listen to the album 4 to 5 times before you hear it the same way twice. Which makes for a very interesting experience with vinyl.
Let me lay out some recommendations: if I were new to vinyl, or getting back into it, I would not make this the first album I pick up. If you’re totally new to the format, go get a classic. Find something from AC/DC or Zeppelin that will be start-to-finish for you. If you’re getting back in, and like the Jack White sound, go grab a used White Stripes album. There won’t be all the bells-and-whistles that ‘Lazaretto’ comes with, which will help to ease you in. Not that listening on vinyl is hard, but the last thing you want to do is drag a needle trying to set the alternate intro on this album.
But this album is totally worth your money. If you don’t have a copy in your collection, you should make it happen. It’s available on Amazon and (hopefully) at your local record store.