In 2014, “Lazaretto,” the second solo album by Jack White, the eccentric former frontman of the White Stripes, sold more than 75,000 vinyl copies, making it the best-selling record on wax since Pearl Jam's “Vitalogy” in 1994. </p>
Why the excitement?
“Lazaretto” is by no means White's best musical release; it's probably one of his weakest. Yet it's the most unique piece of wax you'll ever find. It's certainly the most bizarre, confusing and stunning record in my collection.
Nothing about the release is normal. “Lazaretto” was created as an event. Everything about it is meant to be different.
White's label, Third Man Records, calls “Lazaretto” an “Ultra LP.”
To jump into the music on Side A, listeners beware: Sounds on the album don't start at the edge of the wax; they're near the label. In other words, the disc is inverted. To hear the record's first half, the listener must drop the needle next to the label. With each song, the needle moves outward, closer to the record's edge – the opposite of a typical record.
And underneath the Side A label in the center, a hidden song can be played at 78 rpm.
On Side B, the label trick is done again, but the music can be heard only at 45 rpm. Combined with the record's 33 rpm playing speed, “Lazaretto” uses three different speeds.
On top of that, a hologram is next to the label. An angel dances as the music plays. It's stunning in every way.
Finally, the first track on Side B offers a different listening experience, depending on where you place the needle on the edge of the record. On one listen, “Just One Drink” begins with an acoustic opening; on another, it's electric.
These innovations and clever marketing made this “Ultra LP” a hit, and an instant must-buy for anyone interested in vinyl – regardless of the music's quality.
Helming Third Man Records in Nashville, White is doing everything he can to keep the old music format alive and kicking. In his hands, it's not going anywhere anytime soon, and that's a good thing for old fans, and newcomers as well.
Lazaretto 12-inch vinyl
Artist: Jack White
Label: Third Man Records