Open Letter To Jack White Regarding The "Lazaretto" Ultra LP!

As much as I have enjoyed your antics over the years (let's face it, that dude from the Von Bondies had it coming, am I right?), with the upcoming release of the Ultra LP version of your new album, Lazaretto, I can't help but feel that the sizzle is a whole lot tastier than the steak itself.

Would it kill you to just release some music that the world wants to hear so that maybe, just maybe those damn marching bands will stop beating "Seven Nation Army" into the ground all game every game?  That probably won't stop them, of course, but I had to ask.  After all, during your White Stripes days, you were tossing out iconic tunes left and right: "The Big Three Killed My Baby", "Hello Operator", "Fell In Love With A Girl", "Dead Leaves and The Dirty Ground", "Hotel Yorba".

I've spun your nearly ten-minute commercial for the Ultra LP a few times and I have yet to hear a song that makes my want to hear more.  Maybe you're well aware of this and that's why you've chosen to trick out your vinyl with every bell and whistle you can think of instead of just woodshedding until the songs were up-to-snuff.

It all reminds me of when Todd Rundgren ran out of musical ideas, but kept recording anyway and came up with the dreadful No World Order, an album that provided the listener with an interactive experience that, according to the album's Wikipedia page:

allows the listener to alter the playback of the music by selecting a pre-determined sequence by either Rundgren or one of his four guest producers - Don Was, Jerry Harrison, Hal Wilner and Bob Clearmountain. The interface allowed the listener to control various aspects of music playback. If the user did nothing, the Rundgren mix would start and play through to the end.

The interactive interface presented standard playback controls and the following major functions, plus a help function:


(TR-i, Hal Wilner, Bob Clearmountain, Jerry Harrison, Don Was)


(Very Fast Forward, Fast Forward, Forward, Hold, Reverse)


(Creative, Standard, Conservative)


(Fastest 132 BPM, Faster 126 BPM, Fast 120 BPM, Medium 110 BPM, Slow 100 BPM, Slower 92 BPM, Slowest 96 BPM)


(Bright, Happy, Thoughtful, Sad, Dark)


(Karaoke, Thick, Natural, Spacious, Sparse)


(Blank, Warp, Swarm, Title, Editor)

The material on the disc was 933 4-bar musical segments.[2] Each was a portion of one of the songs, accompanied by metadata describing the character of the segment - tempo in BPM, mood, chorus or verse, etc. Each segment was available in multiple mixes as well, from instrumental to a capella. As the listener adjusted parameters, the currently playing segment would finish before starting a new segment, ensuring a seamless listening experience.[3]

The interface had the unique (at the time) property of allowing the user to select a range rather than a single value when adjusting a parameter. One could select a fast tempo, reducing the range so only that fast tempo segments were played, or increase the range so medium to fast were played, weighting towards fast.

Rundgren demonstrated No World Order and the Philips CD-i system at record stores and electronics retailers after the release of the disc, and can be found on YouTube: Part 1 and Part 2.

The tour for the album was designed to maximize interactivity with the audience, allowing members to dance on a raised portion of the stage, and even to guest solo on guitar.[4] Rundgren was the only performer on this tour apart from three female dancers.[5]

The interactive program received "Best Composition/Arrangement" from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, and the "Best Interactive Disc of the Year" Award from Video magazine.[6]

Now, I know what you're thinking: That's a lot of features for a CD.  Sadly, the only thing it didn't do was allow you to pick better songs for Rundgren, who, in true Prince fashion, had left Warner Brothers and started recording under a pseudonym, TR-i) to perform.

See, these sorts of bells-and-whistles are all fine and good, but it just never seems to happen that such out-of-the-box vision is ever married to great songs.  Fix that problem and something tells me your interest in music-geek subterfuge will subside in direct proportion to how bad-ass your new tunes happen to be.

Ether that, or the next Jack White album will come with actual bells and whistles in hopes of taking our minds off of how other bands are writing better songs and stealing all your thunder.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility

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