Another day, another unequivocally cool side project from Jack White and his boutique record label, Third Man Records—the place where vinyl fetishists can find things like tri-colored vinyl, black-and-white Flat Duo Jets reissues, and Carl Sagan seven-inches etched with Voyager Record illustrations to rub all over their pale, ramen-fed bodies.
Third Man’s latest project is a three-song, seven-inch single by Butthole Surfers front man Gibby Haynes, slated for release this Valentine’s Day. Haynes is a legend, and the record probably sounds pretty good, as recordings produced in Third Man’s all-analog recording studio tend to. But the real treat for vinyl collectors is the record itself, which comes printed on old medical x-rays.
They’re calling it a “Flex-Ray Disc,” and there won’t be very many of them. Third Man will sell the limited-edition pressing from the label’s bright yellow Rolling Record Store in Austin, Tex., during South by Southwest. Move quick and you might still get one on pre-sale at the Third Man website.
As Andy Cush notes over at Animal, these records have a beautiful and unexpected pedigree. During the Cold War, when American music was contraband in the USSR, furtive enthusiasts would smuggle records into the country, some of which were printed on old x-rays.
German speakers can read all about it at Der Spiegel, but Dangerous Minds has a nice summary here, with images of some of the Soviet x-ray records, including my favorites, Fred Astaire’s “Cheek to Cheek” printed on an x-ray of a pelvis (above), and W.C. Hardy’s “St. Louis Blues,” printed on the x-ray of a skull (below).