So, Just How Much Could You Spend On A Full Set of White Stripes Vinyl?

Vault 16

A complete set of White Stripes Vinyl? Or a car? You decide…

White Stripes Release New Double Live Album “Nine Miles From The White City”

The White Stripes Nine Miles From The White City label

Despite having split up in 2011, The White Stripes have released a new double live album this week. Marking the tenth anniversary of their magnum opus “Elephant”, the red and white vinyl album “Nine Miles From The White City” is a recording of a 2003 Chicago show. Released as part of Third Man Records‘ The Vault series, which releases exclusive Third Man albums, singles and merchandise quarterly, it adds another glossy page to The White Stripes back catalogue.

Jack and Meg split. And then they formed the band...

Jack and Meg split. And then they released their first album…

In a way however, it is all too easy to focus on all the glittery baubles that White releases nowadays as part of his one-man campaign to ensure “your turntable’s not dead”. Indeed, I may do so myself in another article. However none of this would matter if the music wasn’t exceptional.

It wasn’t until I heard “Dead Leaves And The Dirty Ground” that I really “got” The White Stripes. I hadn’t heard the eponymous debut album or follow up De Stijl. “Hotel Yorba” and “Fell In Love With The Girl” (with the latter’s lego-style video) were garage-rock-cool singles. But “Dead Leaves” channelled Zeppelin. It channelled the blues. I reckoned Jack White was a new holder of the torch first held by the likes of Robert Johnson, and passed down the generations, via BB King, Hendrix, Page and Durst. Just kidding about that last guy.

The White Stripes, I then realised, were more than just one of those “The” bands (see The Datsuns, The Vines, The Hives et al) who proliferated around the turn of the century. Those others were good, but The White Stripes were exceptional.

That NME White Stripes free cover mounted 7" single

That NME White Stripes free cover mounted 7″ single in red vinyl

In 2007, a cover-mounted NME White Stripes vinyl single lit a spark in my brain and inexorably pulled me towards the murky swimming pool of record collecting, into which I now dip the occasional impecunious toe. Needless to say White Stripes vinyl fetches high prices. This is mostly because of the music: You can buy all the coloured vinyl you want, but if you have a copy of Bon Jovi’s Wanted Dead or Alive on a silver 12″, don’t expect to retire on the profits. Even Bon Jovi hasn’t retired on the profits from that one. I know that, because I used to have a copy. On the other hand, Led Zep and Beatles records hold their values.

But the other reason why White Stripes records fetch high prices is because Jack White “gets” vinyl. After the music, it’s all about limited editions, different colours, trying new things. He’s a great marketeer and is better at it than any other musician of his generation. Actually, he’s probably better at it than most other marketeers of his generation. What prevents White from becoming a cynical money-making tyrant is that:

  • Most of the music is also available in “plain” vinyl editions for a fair price. (See below).
  • Much of the collectors stuff is lovingly and carefully produced, and is initially less expensive than typical record-company-produced lavish boxed sets.
  • Quarterly scheme The Vault allows fans to buy exclusive albums and singles unavailable anywhere else at a fair (but not cheap) price.

Indeed, if you had invested $60 in the first vault package in 2009 you would have been the proud owner of a mono copy of White Stripes album “Icky Thump”. Whilst this sounds slightly underwhelming at first, you may be surprised to learn that copies of this album currently fetch £330 in the second hand market. Not bad for a record you can buy new and listen to in an arguably enhanced fashion – stereo – for $25.

I thought about buying one from The Vault on release, but decided against it for the foolish reason that I didn’t at the time own a record player. I’m still kicking myself now.

So to get back to the question at the top of the page, How much might a full set of White Stripes vinyl cost? The answer is not as much, and far more than you might think. I know this because I checked. On a very rock n roll excel spreadsheet.

No, really. I actually produced a spreadsheet.

No, really. I actually produced a spreadsheet.

In the “official” canon I make it 6 studio albums, a live album and 24 singles. They are all in print in vinyl (except “Get Behind Me Satan” which for some reason never got an official vinyl release). You can buy all the albums on vinyl for a total cost of about £100.

You can buy all but three of The White Stripes’ singles on 7″ for around £140 for the lot. New. Even most of those early ones. That’s because Third Man Records is releasing all the White Stripes’ singles, so all those lovely B-side-only songs can be snapped up for less than the price of a disastrous day at the races.

I know what you are thinking however. You’re a millionaire, you have money to burn and you want to splash it all on the most expensive limited edition versions of the records that you can. How much might that cost?

The answer is that whilst original first pressings of the album might cost £155 and current pressings£100, the special editions will now set you back £2,630. This does include some rare albums such as the triple vinyl 2003 live recording at Las Vegas (£560), a promo version of Get Behind Me Satan limited to just 300 copies (£300), a red and white coloured vinyl limited (250 copies) version of White Blood Cells for £300 and some of those recent live Vault records.

Singles might cost £140 if you can live without Party of Special Things To Do, but will set you back £1,075 for the limited edition versions, including £285 for a version of Lafayette Blues. If you think that’s a lot, one of the very first fifteen numbered copies of that single recently sold for $18,000. And that’s before you’ve spent another £1,060 on a liquid filled (Jack White) Sixteen Saltines 12″, a White Stripes mini theremin kit and a 3″ White Stripes record set complete with special record player (“triple inchophone”) designed to play the discs.

So that’s £3,757 plus £1,060 for the theremin, liquid filled single and inchophone…

Whilst I may never be a millionaire, I do have two or three modest White Stripes Vault goodies. I’m not a completist, thank goodness. What’s more, my turntable is no longer dead – and Jack White is one of the main reasons for that. That cover mounted NME single has a lot to answer for…

Record #212: The White Stripes – Lafayette Blues



Categories: Indie

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14 replies

  1. I love me some Jack White. But, I may need to get my head checked if I started dropping big bucks on vinyl just for the sake of having it. I’m more of a bargain shopper with the occasional new one from Amazon. Or, Record Store Day.

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  2. Let’s have a ball and a biscuit!

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  3. “Dead Leaves…” was also the ear-opener for me with The White Stripes. I think he follows in the tradition, but I also think he expands it. You can hear the precision with The White Stripes that I think was more latent in the roots artists and even Zepplin.

    If I wasn’t at midlife with kids and all the usual expenses associated with that kind of lifestyle, I’d be one of those limited issue people. For now, I settle for $2 albums at the few yard sales and antique stores I stumble upon. Still have hundreds of albums from my husband’s and my combined collections.

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  4. I could spend a ridiculously long amount of time talking about what a huge Jack White and White Stripes fan I am. HUGE. It really is due to the White Stripes that I hear, think about, and FEEL music in the way that I do. They have truly changed my life. While I wish I had the thousands of dollars to acquire all of the goodies that you’ve mentioned (especially one of those rare Get Behind Me Satan promos – it hurts me that my favorite White Stripes album is not on vinyl) I do have some fun goodies including a white B-sides and rarities with mislabeled record sides. I am also, in fact, the proud owner of an Icky Thump mono from the first vault collection. I had no idea that it was worth quite so much! Thanks for the in-depth analysis of one of my favorite subjects!

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  5. Really great post. I’m not the world’s biggest White Stripes fan by any measure and that is something that has troubled me for some time. Friends pity me when I say they just leave me a bit cold. They’re right of course. Your post has inspired to me do something about it. Oh, and getting a spreadsheet into music blog! Nice work!

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