Title: Icky Thump (Mono Edition)
Label: Third Man
Back in 2009, Jack White decided to turn his Third Man Records logo from a holding company for his master tapes and an imprint that appeared on every White Stripes and Raconteurs record released by V2, XL and Warner Bros., into an actual record company. Having moved to Nashville from Detroit two years before, and having had the aforementioned American rights to his masters reverting back to him after V2 closed up shop, he decided to buy a building that happened to be a mile or so away from United Record Pressing, originally intended to store some things until he decided to make the space much more functional. The first release, catalog number TMR 001, was a 45 from his third band, The Dead Weather, issued on Record Store Day in 2009. TMR 002 he saved for this puppy.
This album is a double audiophile vinyl edition of what ended up being the White Stripes's last ever studio album, Icky Thump. The difference between this version and the version easily found online is twofold:
1. The cover of this edition is tinted red.
2. The version of the album on this edition is a MONO mix.
Yep, even though Jack and Meg went into a top-notch professional studio in Nashville, Jack figured he'd be clever and do something retro in the process. Past Stripes studio tunage had been recorded in places ranging from the living room of Jack and Meg's married abode (anything that claims Third Man Studios as a recording location prior to 2009 was actually wherever Jack lived and laid down his multi-track tape deck) to a studio in England that boasted nothing but antique equipment (the location for all but one track on their fourth album Elephant).
Mono mixes used to be the norm back in the days of the Beatles, Beach Boys, and Bob Dylan - in fact, the stereo mixes back then were normally afterthoughts, even for the likes of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Pet Sounds. (Hence, the necessity of Capitol having to put out a Beatles in Mono box set for the pickiest of Beatlemaniacs when the whole Fab Four back catalog got digitally remastered.) When mono started to be phased out in the late 60's, what few mono titles that were being released were usually foldovers of the stereo mix.
Rather than be a dick and just make a foldover of the stereo mix, Jack White and his engineer decided to make a separate mono mix during the mix sessions for Icky Thump in 2007, even though he probably didn't have an immediate use for it. Two years later, with Third Man becoming an actual physical record label and record store, Jack decided to open a subscription record club on top of that called The Third Man Vault. Premium subscribers (this writer included) get for their $60 every three months an album, a 45 and a third item (T-shirt, DVD, or something else entirely - in one case a second 45!), the quantity of which is limited only to how many people were on subscriber rolls at the time.
The mono Icky Thump was the 12" component of the first ever Vault package, along with a 45 of The Dead Weather doing two cover versions and a T-shirt with the Third Man Records logo. And since this was the first ever Vault release, I don't imagine there are too many copies - Third Man aren't disclosing how many they press of each package. Good luck finding one on eBay - at the time of this writing, one dude was reluctantly giving up his copy for close to $150... Me, I'll never give up mine.
(On a semi-related side note, does anyone besides think we should convince Brother Langdon to do a MFK installment with three alternate rock babes, one of whom would be Meg White?)