Third Man Records Singles Roundup
In the past month or so, Third Man Records released a bunch of singles, some of them part of the continuing Blue Series- where bands passing though Nashville are invited to record a single at Third Man headquarters, to be produced by guitar virtuoso and label owner, Jack White. Two of the new singles are also a part of the continuing Third Man Records Live Series, where bands are invited to perform before an audience in the back room in the Third Man building, called the Blue Room, which is also where the single covers are shot.
“Paul’s Not Home” b/w “You Don’t Have To Be Smart” and “Horse Named George”
This Blue Series single featured Butthole Surfers frontman, Gibby Haynes, drummer Ben Swank (Soledad Brothers/Henry & June), and Jack White (I have a feeling you may know this guy). This single is really hard to describe, I think you’d be better off listening to it yourself, but I’ll try explaining this oddly cool single… The A side is a cover by Adrenalin O.D., a New Jersey punk band, called “Paul’s Not Home”. I can’t say the tune particularly grabs me, however, it’s a repetitive jam that has about 6 total words in it, not that that’s bad, but it gets predictable and rather boring about 1:00 in. The only thing saving it is Jack White’s squealing guitar solo, one of which is placed in each of the tracks. “Horse Named George” is a traditional blues song, and is definitely the song that is most reminiscent of the Butthole Surfers, and that’s a beautiful thing. The single was also sold at South by Southwest in a limited edition, it was pressed on actual X-Rays. I rest my case.
Rating- 3.5 out of 5 stars
Brittany Howard and Ruby Amanfu
“I Wonder” b/w “When My Man Comes Home”
Featured here is Brittany Howard, soulful front woman of the Alabama Shakes, and Ruby Amanfu, a touring member in Jack’s all-female band. Side A featured a reggae-licious version of Rodriguez’s “I Wonder”. The bass in this one is especially delicious- provided by a member of Jack’s all-male band, Dominic Davis. The B side features an awesome cover of “When My Man Comes Home”, a tune originally written by Miss Memphis Minnie, with Howard on acoustic guitar. There’s a special message scratched into the runout of the vinyl grooves alluding to the 2012 award winning film, Searching For Sugar Man, the acclaimed documentary about Rodriguez. It says, “You’re welcome for keeping you alive”.
Rating- 4.5 out of 5 stars
Shovels & Rope
“Johnny 99” b/w “Bad As Me”
My new favorite alt-country band, Shovels & Rope, are featured on Third Man’s latest Blue Series single. The band unleashed their second full length LP, ‘O’ Be Joyful’, last July, and I heavily recommend it, as well as anything the band has released. It’s country with a twist, in better terms; it feels like the White Stripes of the new-country genre. The A side features the duos take on Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska cut, “Johnny 99″. It starts off with a jumpy offbeat keyboard and snare beat, and slowly takes off to an acapella gospel tune. On the flip, recent Tom Waits tune “Bad As Me” is covered, and pays proper respect to Mr. Waits. You’ve gotta admit, it takes a lot to cover Tom Waits successfully.
Rating- 5 out of 5 stars
“Ocean Floor” b/w “End”
Jack White performed in March 2012 at the Third Man Records 3rd anniversary party as an introduction to his new solo career (It was his first solo show), and Hell Beach were his openers. Clearly, he picked a band that wouldn’t overshadow his own performance, not that it could happen…remember, it is a Jack White solo show. Make your own opinion about it, but I think it’s the worst thing Third Man Records has ever released. It’s full of drone and it’s awful. I don’t recommend picking this one up, but remember, not everything Jack White is involved in can be perfect.
Rating- 2.5 out of 5 stars
The People’s Temple
“Never More” b/w “Miles Away”
Lansing, MI psych group stopped in at Third Man to open for Rock n’ roll wizard King Tuff, and recorded two of their songs for a live series single. The A side, “Never More”, is a jam that was on their 2012 HoZac records release More For The Masses (I really recommend you pick that one up, it jams!), and the B side was off their 2011 album, Sons Of Stone. The recording is superb, and it’s pure in face-melting rock and roll.
Rating- 4.87 out of 5 stars