Released: March 1998
Aaaand we're back. Phew it's been a weird and scary period for everyone worldwide. For our family personally, we succesfully navigated the COVID-19 crisis by fleeing to my retired parents-in-law where we could get our 1.5 year old cared for during the daytime so the grown ups could concentrate on working. This worked supremely well for us and we're very happy to have that opportunity as we know so many other people have struggled.
The first record pick to share post-COVID19 could not have been any other record than this and that's because of the story that goes along with me getting this record. Spoiler-alert: It's COVID19 related.
I purchased this on Discogs on March 2 2020 from a very well reviewed store in the U.S. March 2 = one week before everything closed down here in EU. The record is a rare item (1 / 1000) so I paid a lot of money for it: +400$. But as a die-hard White Stripes fan this was a serious hole in my White Stripes collection that I just had to fill. The shop lived up to it's high reputation and shipped it the day after. Around March 13 I could see on track and trace that it had "Left the country of the sender". The problem was that 2 weeks later that was still the status of the package, one month later still the same. It would be 2 months before the package finally arrived in Copenhagen. Funny thing was that around that time I had ordered a ton of other stuff from the U.S. which made it through just fine. But this one got totally stuck somewhere. The Danish postal service blamed the U.S. and the U.S. blamed the Danish. I know it's probably due to general COVID-19 difficulties and the other packages were apparently just lucky, so this is not an instance of postal service bashing (which I think they do deserve in some cases, but for other reasons - see my earlier Instagram post :-P), but rather what the store owner told me he had experienced during the crisis. He told me that people were demanding their money back because a 5$ CD got the same treatment as my 400$ 45". Really? No, REALLY? That is just insane. Our beloved record stores have been through a lot with worldwide forced store closures, while still having to pay rent, staff, and more. So do everyone in the vinyl community a favor and be nice to your local or international record store. Cut them some slack and by all means visit them now that they have reopened in large parts of the world and take home that record that you know you want anyway.
OK that was enough COVID19 for now, on to the record!
So this is the first pressing of The White Stripes first 45". 1000 copies exist. It features two tracks: Let's shake hands and Look me over closely. Let's shake hands is a wellknown White Stripes classic and Look me over closely is a cover they play that in my opinion is totally underrated. It's also one that I've only rarely heard live. I think I only have one live version of it in my collection. The song is written by Terry Gilkyson but most famously performed by Marlene Dietrich:
If you listen to it the basic structure is the same as the White Stripes rendition.
The White Stripes version is just torn down to the absolute bare necessities: The bass riff in Gilkyson's version is moved to Jack's guitar and then the very sparse piano playing just playing chords along with the song. It's great. It's simple. And a great introduction to what was to come. Another thing to notice here is that it bears the same raw recording style as their later album does. And if you look closely on the back of the record you will see that the record is recorded at 1203 Ferdinand in Detroit, which also to be Jack White's home. I'm pretty sure that this was recorded straight to tape with the piano part added earlier. My main argument for this is that you can hear Jack's fingers sliding up and down on the neck of the guitar as he plays that riff, which really sounds like it's the mic he's singing into that is picking that sound up. I could be mistaken though. Another thing I love about this track is what it signifies to the scene at the time. I mean think of it. Let's shake hands is a very dirty raunchy punky song. I believe I heard in an interview (maybe on the Striped podcast) that the reason they chose Look me over closely as the B-side was to signal that White Stripes is not just another punk rock band, so they cover a Marlene Dietrich performance. Nice! Anyway, that's enough geeking on this track. I love it. One of my many alltime favorite White Stripes tracks.
The record was put out on Italy Records, run by Dave Buick. At the time Jack White was also in another band called "The Go", in which Dave played bass on the only album Jack White also features on "Whatcha' doin'". If you haven't heard this album yet I can highly recommend it. But the most important part of the Italy Records production is that it got the ID 3 :)
Finally, the record features a very small insert, which lends some kind of explanation as to the name of the band.
The record itself is beautiful red vinyl.