October 10, 2018 3:17 pm

Rare ’90s cassette unearthed featuring Jack White covering Blondie

Jack White performs live on stage during a one-off solo concert in support of 'Blunderbuss' at the Kentish Town Forum on April 23, 2012, in London, England.

Jim Dyson / Redferns via Getty Images
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The earliest-known studio recording of Jack White has been discovered in a Detroit basement. White’s Third Man Records partner and nephew, Ben Blackwell, recently unearthed the recording from an undocumented cassette which dates back to 1997.

The cassette includes a cover of the 1978 Blondie classic, One Way or Another, which features White’s vocals. According to Blackwell, White was working as a session engineer for a group under the moniker 400 Pounds of Punk.

WATCH BELOW: Possibly the earliest recording of Jack White on vocals. 400 Pounds of Punk’s take on Blondie’s One Way or Another

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Prior to this year’s Cassette Store Day (Oct. 13), Blackwell wrote an article celebrating the overlooked beauty of the cassette tape. Why Cassettes Are The New 45s, was published to Discogs on Wednesday morning and featured a digital rip of the White cover.

In the midst of writing his piece, he looked to his dusty cassette collection (featuring more than 200 cassette tapes) for inspiration. He then accidentally uncovered the raw unreleased EP and shared it with the world’s ears. He wrote:

“As far as I can tell, the rarest physical release of a Jack White performance. And prior to the mention here, the release was completely undocumented. I doubt more than a half-dozen people even knew about it.”

Pre-fame White shared vocal duties for this one-off with the band’s lead singer, Jamie Cherry. The punk band hired White to help produce the four-track EP He Once Ate a Small ChildOne Way or Another was the hidden fifth track, which went unlisted.

Meg and Jack White of The White Stripes at Icky Thump Records, in West Hollywood, Calif.

John Shearer / WireImage for Warner Bros. Records

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Blackwell is known as a seminal contributor to The White Stripes. He was their roadie right from the start and eventually became their official archivist. This entails the many interviews he conducted, the liner notes he wrote, and the full maintenance and updating of their official website. They split in 2011, but that wasn’t the end for Blackwell.

White hired him as his right-hand man at his very own Nashville-based record label, Third Man Records. In an Owen Podcast, Blackwell revealed his official job title as the “Pinball Wizard and Director of Operations,” which basically means he oversees all record production.

Jack White performs at the 2014 Bonnaroo Music Festival.

Michael Hurcomb / Corbis via Getty Images

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Blackwell concluded his nostalgia-filled piece with this food for thought.

This is why cassettes are the new 45s. Because there’s still so much to discover. If I can personally rattle off these handful of releases that are otherwise non-existent in any reasonable modern Internet manner, [then] how many other tapes are languishing in despair in moldy basements across the globe?

So go check your basements — who knows what gems you might find.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

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