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Third Man Records announces Italy Records reissues

Third Man Records is proud to reissue seven records from Italy Records, a Detroit-based independent record label founded by current Third Man Records Cass Corridor employee and longtime friend of Jack White and midwestern garage rockers at large, Mr. Dave Buick. Italy Records, which White recently credited as the model for Third Man’s DIY ethos, celebrates two decades since its first release (Rocket 455’s “Ain’t Right Girl” 7″) with these reissues, which were previously sold on limited edition pink vinyl at Third Man’s Devil’s Night / Italy Records 20th Anniversary Party last month. All seven releases are available now on black vinyl onlineand worldwide at your favorite local, independent record retailers.

Rocket 455 – “Ain’t Right Girl” b/w “That’s All You Get”

Rocket 455 is a Flamin’ Groovies-loving garage rock band formed in Detroit in 1992 after the breakup of local scene essentials The Nervo Beats. Although this was Rocket 455’s third single, it was the first that featured the new, longest and current line up, including founding member Marco Delicato back in the fold as well as Steve “Disco” Nawara from the Electric Six. This 7″ was released on Devil’s Night in 1997 and is notable as the first record ever produced and released by Italy Records.

The Dirtys – “It Ain’t Easy” b/w “Fuck”

The Dirtys were a totally raw garage punk band originally from Port Huron, MI. Their energy, coupled with a sound somewhere between the Oblivians and the MC5, is what makes a live show worthwhile. Celebrated Detroit garage hero Mick Collins (Gories, Dirtbombs) played guitar on the A-side “It Ain’t Easy,” which was unsuccessfully pitched to the Detroit City Council as the new official anthem of Detroit.

Italy Records was founded to release this single by these knuckleheads before the release of their debut LP on respected German label Crypt Records. For one reason or another, this Dirtys 7″ actually ended up being Italy’s second release. Regardless, it’s as punk as it gets and demands your full time and attention.

The Hentchmen played their first show on Halloween of 1992 and have still shown no signs of slowing down. They are noted as some of the earliest purveyors of Detroit-style garage rock. Over their lengthy lifespan, The Hentchmen have released 27 singles (about one each year!) and 8 full-length albums on groundbreaking garage rock labels Norton Records, Estrus Records, Get Hip Records and even a promotional release through Chevrolet. You cannot get more “Detroit” than that. To say Hentch-Forth is their best would be a lie, because whichever record you have spinning is the best! But this album serves as an excellent starting point into their vast, powerful discography.

Hentch-Forth (1998) is the The Hentchmen’s only album that includes Jack White on bass. This extended edition includes the “Some Other Guy” single that also features Jack on guitar plus a couple phenomenal bonus tracks.

There’s a joke and a fun fact regarding this record that would have been all but lost over the decades. Italy Records and the artists included “with Jack White” on both the 7″ and the 12″ because they thought that it would look like one of those old British Invasion records that would have an old bluesman or rocker as a guest. And for all the White Stripes trivia-heads — The Hentchmen’s “Some Other Guy” and The White Stripes’ “Lets Shake Hands” were recorded AND released at the same time, before the world would know what hit them!

The Fells – “Close Your Eyes” b/w “Never Be Your Man”

Hailing from Tucson, AZ, The Fells were churning out high quality, catchy singles throughout the ’90s with the same ferocity as well-known contemporaries the Mummies or New Bomb Turks. Their Italy Records single, which was the ninth 7″ in the Fells’ discography, is one of their most heavy-hitting and finest. The A-side “Close Your Eyes” is practically bi-polar with all the pep, bop and swing that makes a single worth snatching up!

The backstory of this recording is one totally reliant on chance, and almost didn’t happen. The Fells’ van broke down while on tour from Tucson and they were stranded at The Hentchmen’s house, aptly called the Hentch House. With time to kill, the group toted their gear over to their buddy Jack White’s house and recorded these two killer songs for later release on Italy Records. It notably features special guest Johnny Hentch of The Hentchmen on piano.

Soledad Brothers – “Sugar and Spice” b/w “Johnny’s Death Letter”

Out of the ashes of Toledo’s Henry and June arose the mighty Soledad Brothers. This recording is the Soledad Brothers doing what they did best – houserockin’ blues in full Midwestern malaise. This single was recorded in 1998 at Jack White’s house on Ferdinand Street in southwest Detroit and was the band’s debut release.

As key players in a scene of like-minded minimalist garage groups, vocalist, guitarist and master of harmonica Johnny Walker and drummer/future Third Man Records co-founder Ben Swank, were playing shows in Detroit so often, it eventually just made sense for Ben to pay Jack rent and become his roommate. This single features Jack playing a metal snow shovel on the B-side, “Johnny’s Death Letter”.

Greenhornes – “Stayed Up Last Night” b/w “Shadow of Grief”

Although not technically a Detroit-based garage group, this Cincinnati band fit in as honorary Detroiters by the time this single was released. The Greenhornes were purveyors of period-perfect 1960s rock n roll a la the Pretty Things and the Kinks. Plus, they were immediately set apart by their grim reputation of touring in a ’67 Cadillac hearse.

This single was recorded at Jack White’s house in southwest Detroit right before the release of the Greenhornes’ debut LP and the b-side is a re-imagined version of one of their 2nd LP’s strongest tracks “Shadow of Grief”. Band members Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler would go on to be the rhythm section in the Raconteurs while Brian Olive would later join the Soledad Brothers and make serious contributions to Dr. John’s revered “Locked Down” album.

Whirlwind Heat – Glaxefusion

Grand Rapids’ finest Whirlwind Heat is notable as Italy Records’ first foray into anything that could possibly be considered art-rock. Listening to their jams, you’d quickly get the feeling DEVO and Brainiac were spinning heavily on their turntables.
On each track, the rhythm section is quick and jagged and vocals are hardly even human, interspersed with synth bursts. This single, Italy’s 12th release, was also recorded with Jack White in 2001 and began a partnership that lasts to this day, with WWH drummer Brad Holland working as Third Man’s in house video director and lead singer David Swanson accompanying Jack White on tour as his official photographer.

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