Life on the Flip Side
Love ’em, leave ’em or litigate ’em, bootlegs will always be emblematic of a hip band’s underground cred. Well, we won’t get into those Linkin Park boots in circulation, but it’s still impressive how the White Stripes discography has doubled over the past couple of years.
Both The Boston Tea Party and Ellie collect choice sets from the Spring ’03 Elephant tour. The former is a superb-sounding, professionally mixed concert recorded April 20 at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre and subsequently put up on the Stripes’ Web site as a free audio stream that some enterprising bootlegger nabbed over a high-speed connection. Ellie (as in Elephant, get it?) is made up of two UK radio shows, one recorded in Brixton on April 11 and subsequently rebroadcast via BBC Radio One, the other a partial concert aired live (in slightly lesser quality) from Manchester on April 8. One downside is some nonessential DJ chatter — the Radio One presenter feels compelled to speculate upon such pressing matters as why didn’t the band perform “Fell In Love With A Girl” at Brixton — but otherwise, Ellie’s also a winner.
Life on the Flip Side is truth-in-titling, in that 22 of its 28 tracks collect all known Stripes vinyl rarities and B-sides. Four early songs from the impossibly rare Italy Records 45s are present alongside a comprehensive roster of the pre-Elephant singles on Sympathy, Sub Pop and XL. (You need to hear the Stripes’ Sub Pop treatment of Captain Beefheart tunes.) A few compilation tracks turn up as well, such as Sympathetic Sounds Of Detroit’s “Red Death At 6:14.” And just to tweak your inner completist, included are six bonus tracks from ’02 TV and FM appearances, notably a hectic “Fell In Love With A Girl” from the March 16 Letterman show (complete with Dandy Dave’s blandly insincere intro and outro).
With striking packaging adorning all three collections — Flip Side’s digipack even displays a gallery of all the 45s’ picture sleeves — it’s safe to say that, illicit origins or not, artifacts such as these are keeping Stripes collectors well-serviced between official releases.
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