Vinyl is an old format, but that doesn’t mean there’s not new ways it can be experimented with. Just ask Jack White, who since 2001 has been releasing innovatively designed records with his label Third Man that push the boundaries of what vinyl can do. With news surfacing that White might be about to become the first person to play a vinyl record in space, here’s some of the coolest and cleverest vinyl Third Man has let the world spin…
Karen Elson, 'Vicious' – clear vinyl with peach-coloured rose petals inside: Possibly a homage to the line "you hit me with a flower" in Lou Reed’s ‘Vicious’, Karen Elson’s cover was imprinted on a clear vinyl that had peach-coloured rose petals inside. It’s beauty lies in the fact that its delicate design is totally at odds with the raw, rough song that lies on the actual record.
The Dead Weather, 'Hang You From The Heavens' – Texas-sized eight-inch: After released this as a plain-old seven-inch single in 2009, Jack felt he had unfinished business with this Dead Weather single a year later, re-releasing it as a "Texas-sized" eight-inch vinyl, a size of record previously made by old record company Victor but seldom seen since.
Various, '...Blue Series' – 56 songs on one LP: In a move both frustrating and enchanting, Third Man released all 56 of their Blues Series singles on one side of vinyl to celebrate their third anniversary. This means that the record has to be played at 3RPM, chosen due to Jack's obsession with the number three. It’s basically impossible to play, as the slowest turntable ever made is 8RPM.
Various, 'The Rise And Fall Of Paramount Records' – burled chestnut vinyl with embossed gold leaf labels: Documenting the life and times of Wisconsin imprint Paramount, this so-called "Wonder Cabinet" sold in 2013 consisted of six chestnut-coloured, hand-engraved vinyls with gold-leaf labels as well as a couple of books big enough to kill Aragog – all stashed in a handy wooden briefcase.
Various, 'The Great Gatsby' soundtrack – metalised platinum and gold vinyl: A release befitting the opulence of Gatsby and his hedonistic associates in Baz Luhrmann's 2012 film, Third Man put out this Jay Z-produced OST on sparkling platinum and gold metalised vinyl. Perfect for rocking out an on-point Charleston routine to.
The Dead Weather, 'Blue Blood Blues' – triple decker record: OK, so this one is pretty mad. Take 'Blue Blood Blues' out its sleeve and give it a spin, and it’s just The Dead Weather’s ‘Blue Blood Blues’. But, crack the record open with a small knife and voila – Jack’s only gone and bloody hidden another smaller record inside the 12-inch one.
Rachelle Garniez, 'My House Of Peace' – glow in the dark vinyl: Blending 'Transformer'-era Lou Reed piano and Patti Smith’s spine-tingling vocals, ‘My House Of Peace’ is a chilled-as-you-like slice of folk-rock. Quite why Third Man put it out as a Halloween glow-in-the-dark LP, embellished with zombie motifs and a "YOUR TURNTABLE IS UNDEAD!!!" label, we don't know, but we like it.
Karen Elson, 'The Ghost Who Walks' – peach coloured and scented vinyl: Exclusively available to Third Man vault members, 2010 saw the release of one of the zaniest ideas in vinyl history. Not only was Elson’s 'The Ghost Who Walks' vinyl peach-coloured, but also it was scented to smell like the fruit. Who doesn't want a record that smells like a fruit cobbler?
Jack White, 'Sixteen Saltines' – the world's first liquid vinyl: From 'Blue Blood Blues' to something that kinda looks like blue blood. For Record Store Day 2012, White proved his vinyl insanity by filling a record with liquid. As one Reddit user smartly pointed out, it’s the easiest album to ‘leak’ ever – an actual problem for many buyers, who found liquid oozing out over their turntables.
Jack White, 'Lazaretto' – ultra LP: A veritable vinyl Rubix Cube of hidden treats and treasures, featuring – deep breath – two hidden tracks beneath the labels, three different speeds, a Side A that plays from the inside out, dual-groove technology meaning there’s alternate intros, a matte finish, zero compression used during mastering and a hand-edged hologram.
Jack White, 'Freedom At 21' – released via helium balloons: Since this idea was a) insane and b) unveiled on April 1, 2012, it was assumed to be an April Fool, but no – Third Man really did release ‘Freedom At 21' via a load of helium balloons into the skies of Nashville. One Ebay seller made a packet after finding a handful of the balloons, with one fetching an eye-watering $4,238.88.
BP Fallon, 'Fame #9' – three-sided vinyl: Having worked as a publicist and manager for Led Zeppelin, T Rex and Johnny Thunders, BP Fallon has a whole lot of great stories to tell. Which is why Third Man gave him a spoken word record, released rather uniquely on ‘three-sided’ vinyl – meaning that one side of the record has a pair of grooves with different recordings on each.