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Can Jack White bring vinyl up to date?

Can Jack White bring vinyl up to date?


Jack White's new album 'Lazaretto' is innovating on vinyl. But can he make fans switch away from digital?

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Jack White is hellbent on pushing the envelope on vinyl. For the release of his latest album Lazaretto, White already broke a world record last month by recording and pressing the LP's title track in less than four hours. Now, the artist and his indie label Third Man Records have produced what he calls an Ultra LP, a record with multiple playback features baked in especially for analog music aficionados.

"We've pulled off a lot of interesting ideas all contained in this one LP."

Given all the work to make the record stand out, it's clear that White and Third Man went above and beyond to show their appreciation for the format. The 11-track Ultra LP will feature two hidden tracks underneath its center label, for one thing. Notably, while the rest of the album can be heard at the normal 33 1/3 RPMs, the two extras spin at 45 and 78 RPMs each, making it a three-speed release. Lazaretto is also the first album with a locked outer groove, meaning that Side A (which plays from the inside out) will end on a continuous loop. But probably the most impressive addition is a hand-etched hologram on Side A, which is also, of course, the first of its kind. White runs down all the features below:

White has long been a vinyl devotee, having founded Third Man Records to focus on the format back in 2009. In an interview with NPR the following year, he even went so far as to say, "Vinyl is the real deal. I've always felt like, until you buy the vinyl record, you don't really own the album." He's not alone; while sales on iTunes declined for the first time in a decade earlier this year, vinyl sales (while comparatively small) have been increasing remarkably, shooting up 33 percent since 2012. Even though the argument that audio quality on vinyl is better than on digital is, shall we say, controversial, White is definitely onto something when it comes to giving the fans what they want. Lazaretto is due out on June 10th.

Update: A previous version of this post stated that Lazaretto was recorded and pressed in four hours. It was the title track. The article has been updated.