jack white - lazaretto

Jack White: Lazaretto (2014)

Day 18 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for a “strange play” – what album has a unique feature about it when you play it? Maybe it’s a locked track, a hidden song, a continuous loop? It’s well established that Jack White is a fan of what vinyl can do, but he might have overdid it with his second solo album Lazaretto, which throws a ton of weird features onto wx with mixed results. The actual music, though? Sweet.

Let’s count them, shall we? First off, Lazaretto has a different running order than the CD or streaming version. The album has two finishes, a normal one for side A, and a matte, shellac-like finish for Side B. There’s a hologram of a diamond that spins in the runout grooves. Side A plays in reverse, meaning you start the record at the of the side and it spins to the beginning. The opening track of Side B “Just One Drink” has two openings depending on where you place the stylus. Finally, there are two hidden tracks that are actually on the labels. Oh, and they’re at a different RPM then the album itself.

Did I miss anything? Probably, and I say right now it’s a little much for a good old fashioned rock and roll record that takes more than a few cues from the Rolling Stones. But that’s what ultimately draws me to White’s music. When he’s digging into the past and mining those great melodies and riffs, like he does on the title track, “Three Women,” “High Ball Stepper,” and “Alone in My Home” he recalls the best of the music I remember hearing on the radio as a kid. Relieved of the stripped down aesthetic he used in the White Stripes, the music breathes more, particularly with the amount of piano and organ injected into the tunes.

White’s play with different styles and moods across Lazaretto make it an album I return to quite often, even if it’s just to turn on and drift away, thinking about older, better times. Something about that voice, that love of classic 60s and 70s rock, blend into a salve. As I write more and more in here I realize that’s what I keep coming back to. That must be what I need right now.

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