The White Stripes issued a beautiful double-vinyl release of their final live show for The Vault fan club members last week, and along with the Live In Mississippi album, a couple additional items were included to make the package a little less poignant, and make any Stripes fan even more thankful they signed up for the service.
The latest Third Man package includes a 7″ record of early recordings from the band, featuring a cover of Arthur Lee’s Signed DC and Otis Redding‘s I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (both of which you can listen to here), which Third Man Records explains as such: “Recorded in Detroit in September of 1997 a mere two months after the Stripes’ live debut, this single provides a heretofore unheard era of the band. Although their debut single ‘Let’s Shake Hands’ wouldn’t be released for another eight months, this recording shows how fully-formed the general idea, aesthetic and approach of the White Stripes was from the very start.”
Additionally, the package also contains a superfan’s gem DVD capturing an early show from the duo’s 2000 tour, called Under Moorhead Lights All Fargo Night. Previously unseen footage from the band’s June 13, 2000 gig at Ralph’s Corner Bar in Moorhead, Minnesota captures the band in their pre-fame glory, with nucleus Jack White a bit more subdued than the blues-demon guitar freakouts we’d see in later years as he sowed the seeds of the greatness that would soon follow.
The Stripes DVD isn’t the stuff of casual-fan viewing. The video is comprised of amateur footage, likely by White’s nephew and TMR stalwart Ben Blackwell (“the guy on the couch”). Lo-fi, relatively grainy and a seriously fuzzy on the sound, the film nevertheless captures the pre-fame energy and the determined confidence these Candycane Children possessed, even when they were still club-rocking Detroiters trying to break out of the scene.
The small club show took place the day the band’s second album, De Stijl, was released, as Jack explains before a slower take on the album’s first song, You’re Pretty Good Looking. A take on their beloved cover of Son House’s classic Death Letter is a far more direct performance than later shows would yield, more in line with the version heard on De Stijl. Jack, apologizing repeatedly for the slight raspiness in his voice (most evident during Jolene), shows flashes of the groove-spaz solos that would come to define his onstage persona, but only enough to indicate a greater potential building.
Meg’s side-cocked head & metronome beats are a welcome sight for Stripes fans still mourning the duo’s split, her eyes nearly closed in focused time for the majority of the performance. Fans will also delight in seeing Jack sporting his trademark Airline 2P Deluxe guitar for a haunting version of Truth Doesn’t Make a Noise, which carried on into a cymbal-crashing cover of Iggy Pop’s I’m Bored.
“Thanks very much, this is our last song,” Jack shares before a medley of Cannon and John The Revelator. “If you wanna buy the record or something, we’ll be in the back.” He then proceeds to blow out his voice entirely during the Revelator segment, plowing right through the song despite the failure of his instrument. Powerful stuff.
In a short post-show clip, Jack & Blackwell can be seen play-fighting outside the venue, filming kids at the merch stand as they examine the Stripes’ merchandise wares. The youthful energy & tomfoolery on display is a great contrast to the stoically collected Jack we see these days, with the weight of three bands and a budding recording empire on his shoulders.
If you own this piece of White Stripes history, don’t let it sit shrink-wrapped on the rack while you wait for the Ebay demand to rise. Open & enjoy it, as it was meant to be used. Learn the musical backstory.
Under Moorhead Lights All Fargo Night tracklist:
01. Let’s Shake Hands
03. Wasting My Time
04. Jolene (Dolly Parton)
05. Death Letter
06. Little Bird
07. Apple Blossom
08. You’re Pretty Good Looking (for a Girl)
09. Your Southern Can is Mine (Blind Willie McTell)
10. Suger Never Tasted So Good
11. Truth Doesn’t Make a Noise
12. I’m Bored (Iggy Pop)
13. Cannon/John the Revelator