As a company that presses vinyl records, we always have mad respect to music innovators such as Third Man Records. They released some of the quirkiest vinyl releases with the most badass merch items to boot.
Third Man is an innovator in the world of vinyl records and a boundary pusher in the world of recorded music, aiming to bring tangibility and spontaneity back into the record business.
#1 KINS – GRIOT GALAXY
Black/white splatter “Liquid Darkness” vinyl
“Kins” by Griot Galaxy, Detroit’s very own avant-garde jazz band, was re-released in the form of a vinyl record last 2019, through Third Man Records. The 1982 originally released album was a beautiful creative mixture of Detroit jazz as the members of the band masterly combined their musical backgrounds in funk, bebop, reggae, and more.
Thanks to lead engineer Ron Decorte, who held onto the original master tapes of the recordings, we can hear it even after decades have passed.
Buying the 2019 vinyl version of the album does not only guarantee you with musical perfection for it also offers you great visual works too. Though the artwork from the original vinyl album was retained, what really draws you win would be the vinyl record it houses.
The black and white splatter designed vinyl or “Liquid Darkness”, as what it’s called by The Man Records, is truly mesmerizing when you look at it for a long time.
#2 SIXTEEN SALTINES – JACK WHITE
Vinyl record enthusiasts and collectors will always have a blast in this famous musical holiday known as Record Store Day. Why is that? Well this amazing day let’s them discover unusually, uniquely, and crazily pressed vinyl records. And we have Third Man Records of Nashville, TN, consistently pushing for more uniquely made designs.
One of these is Jack White’s “Sixteen Saltines” special edition LP with its B-side containing a playable Third Man Records logo. What’s taking me out the most is that they took that same special edition and made another one. And this time, they replaced the etched logo at the center with a clear one containing blue free flowing liquid within.
#3 3″ THE WHITE STRIPES AND THE THIRD MAN RECORDS
Did ya’ll know about this? Apparently there were 3 inch vinyl records in the early 2000s and one of the many artists that released their singles in these was The White Stripes. They released 8 singles on it in 2005 along with an Inchophone turntable. And to this day, copies of the singles are too expensive to even imagine.
In 2019’s Record Store Day, this format was resurrected, giving birth to RSD3 Mini Turntable by Crosley and White Stripes’ singles that were not available in the format before.
The singles in those 3” vinyl records are really rare copies that vinyl record collectors gladly buy without thinking of the price. What’s more is that it also has its very own cute turntable. And I’m pretty sure one of these days, months, or years, 3” vinyl records would be a trend among artists.
#4 TROUT MASK REPLICA – CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & HIS MAGIC BAND
Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band’s Trout Mask Replica is one of recorded popular music history’s cornerstones. It has been hailed as one of the greatest albums of all time for the unexplored musicality it offered to not just its listeners, but also to other artists. Many repressings of the vinyl have been using scans of the original cover in 1969. However, last 2018, Third Man Records, with their partnership with Zappa Family Trust, repressed the album with a much clearer quality of the cover than any other repressings of the album.
In addition to the clearer cover on the jacket, the pair of black vinyl records are embedded with different colors. This made it even more special than the other released repressings because when light is shined on it, it looks like a pool of overlapping rainbows from afar.
#5 BILLIE EILISH
During Billie Eilish’s guesting in the Third Man Records’ The Blue Room in November 6th of 2019, she performed a well-cherished acoustic set for her fans and friends. This set was recorded live on Third Man Records’ direct-to-acetate system that was used for the pressing of its vinyl format. It was released in two very limited versions of the set.
The first one is a solid green vinyl while the second one is a split-colored black and blue see- through vinyl record. The limited vinyl records came with Billie Eilish’s own splatter artwork that she made that day, just for the vinyl albums. What’s so awesome about it is that no vinyl jacket would have the same design as it was manually done by the female artist, I guess that’s why it’s extremely limited huh.
#6 PUSSY MASK – PEACHES
A well known feminist icon, who’s thankfully also a musician, producer and artist, will release her new single “Pussy Mask” this June 25. With Third man records help, Peaches would also be releasing the single in 7” vinyl records. You might be wondering about the message behind it, and according to Peaches herself, the song is a weird and fun song that reflects the concerns we have during this pandemic.
As mentioned the single would be pressed on 7” vinyl records, and that would be in two editions. The standard one in black and the limited one, with only 500 copies, in picture discs.
The artwork on the disc really matches with the singles title “Pussy Mask”. It’s a mask that would stop the menstruation coming out as seen on the picture disc. The person who thought of the artwork is a genius, don’t you think?
#7 SOUTHEAST OF SATURN – MICHIGAN SPACE-ROCK, SHOEGAZE & DREAM-POP
This 19-tracked vinyl album is a compilation of songs from different bands, thus offering a variety of music genres for its buyers. It has genres like garage-rock, goth-rock, neo-hippie and more.
It contains two vinyl records that are differently designed. One has a similar look with the front cover of the jacket, a mixture of black and blue-green colors.
The other one on the other hand looks simpler than the first with it’s black vinyl designed with blue rays. You can also see the difference between the outer artwork, one with the blue color scheme and the inner one in black and white.
#8 8:46 – THIRD MAN RECORDS & DAVE CHAPPELLE
This album released by Third Man Records is a project made by a number of artists who wanted the proceeds of the sales to Chappelle’s high school alma mater.
The album is a very beautiful album that addressed George Floyd’s and other people’s brutal experience due to racism. It included 8 minutes and 46 seconds for George Floyd and other victims of race inequality, police brutality and more racist acts.
What makes this even more beautiful is the cover of the vinyl album, which was a photograph of people protesting for justice. Moreover, the inner sleeves are also printed with photographs from the protest. But we can never neglect the beautifully preseed vinyl record it houses with it’s unusual design of green, black, and green colors accentuated with white streaks.
#9 LIVE AT GOOSE LAKE: AUGUST 8, 1970 – THE STOOGES
Stooges’ performance at the Goose Lake Festival gave me goosebumps knowing that it was their last performance together with its original members. It has been recounted countless times already for the past decades. It hasn’t stopped until now, of course, since I’ll be retelling it again here. During that festival, bassist Dave Alexander went up on stage intoxicated making hip space out in front of 200, 000 attendees. He was then fired by the band’s singer Iggy Pop after the gig was done.
But even though it was a sad ending for the original members of the band, they still offered great music for their fans. And now, Third Man Records have repressed the iconic performance into three different vinyl record editions.
The jackets and their records may look simple, but the simplicity and minimalistic approach shows the beauty of the center artwork and on how everything compliments each other.
#10 ONE MISSISSIPPI – BRENDAN BENSON
Last 2019, Brendan Benson announced the reissue of his debut album “One Mississippi”. Third Man Records’ reissue is the first custom vinyl pressing for the 25 year old classic album. It was available in black vinyl and clear vinyl. Though the black vinyl is just a standard one, with no design or anything fancy, I say it still is awesome for the way it compliments the almost white vinyl jacket of the album. And if I may add, the clear vinyl record looks really cool too with its green tint.
#11 DE STIJL – THE WHITE STRIPES
This vinyl album named after both Dutch magazine and art movement in the 20th century was the album that propelled them into stardom. The album was recorded in Third Man Studios and was shot like in covers of those magazines.
Well we all know how the duo has always stuck to black, white, and red, right? Isn’t that awesome enough? That they’ve released tons and tons of albums all in the same color scheme but their vinyl records as well as their jackets are unique from one another. Creative minds surely never run out of ideas.
#12 THERE IS A HUM
Bush Tetras’ debut single “Too Many Creeps” was a defining moment in New York City releasing it with 99 Records. They were formed in 1979 and parted ways after four years of being together. In 2018, the original members of the band, with Val Opielski replacing late Laura Kennedy, put together an EP entitled “Take the Fall”. With the EP’s release also came the release of 7” vinyl records for two of the tracks from it: “There is A Hum” and “Seven Years”.
The band teamed up with Third Man Record for the release of these 7” singles. As seen above the cute size of the clear vinyl record brings out the beauty of the vinyl album’s vinyl jacket. Moreover, you will also notice how the vinyl record has a bigger area for the record company’s logo and more, unlike most 12” vinyl records.
James Hill is a veteran of the music industry. He first worked at Warner Reprise Records then later joined Interscope/ Geffen Records where he managed producers and songwriters and got his first platinum record for Keyshia Cole’s The Way It Is. He is now helping indie artists with branding and manufacturing through his company Unified Manufacturing, a CD/DVD, custom vinyl records and merch company in LA.