First off, of course I’m doing a best of the year. Every frickin’ critic in existence wants to tell you how much they love something and have you agree with it. I’m no different from anyone else in that regard. I’ll check out the rankings and see if I own the stuff they talk about and if I feel the same way.
Only problem for me is that I only started this blog a couple weeks ago, and haven’t reviewed enough records to give a big list. Then there is the fact that I’m focusing on vinyl and not just music, so I’m judging presentation as well as quality of work. So, for 2014, I’m only going to list three records in this category.
Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for… dum dum DUUUUUUUM.
Third Man Records
Jack White does vinyl right.
Yeah that sounds like a horrible headline and a cliché to boot, but it’s true. For several years now he has not only been championing vinyl, but also making it special for those who buy it. This ‘record’ contains alternate cuts from the CD and downloads and also plays from the inside out on side one. In addition the centre of one side plays a song at 45 rpm and the other side plays a tune at 78 rpm. (Only problem with the 78 is finding a turntable to play at that speed and a turntable that allows the arm to play in the centre.) Which the jaded would call nothing more than a cool gimmick if the music didn’t hold up – but it does, and quite well I might add.
White doesn’t just play the blues, but explores it and turns it into something he owns. Sure Clapton could get you to weep, and Page could make you shake, but White flips it on its head and actually has fun. By mining different forms of southern American roots music and then throwing out any semblance of a rule book, he puts out a record that is merely rooted in the blues but refuses to pray at the altar. He jumps styles, employs more than the standard guitar, bass, keys and drums rock method and writes songs that defy the cookie cutter approach of today’s top selling artists.
Sure, in terms of his ‘I’m better than anyone’ public image, I get annoyed with him, but damn, he puts out good records. Even his critics, those that are giving him mediocre reviews are not holding White up against his peers in music, but rather against his own body of work in the White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather and solo material.
While White has kinda made a career out of being one of the “last guitar heroes standing” he has also evolved into an outstanding overall artist who earns the best compliment I can give… I’ll buy a Jack White record before I even hear a song from it. Believe me, the list of artists who have earned that right is very short.