Last week saw Episode 3 of Third Man Public Access, the weekly webcast series by Third Man Records that contains at-home performances, music videos, unreleased content, book readings, and more. Last week’s episode gave fans of The White Stripes a special surprise as it contained a previously unreleased video of the band performing “Hello Operator” nearly 20 years ago.
The video, which will appear as part of the Third Man Records Vault Package #44 commemorating the 20th anniversary of the band’s sophomore album, De Stijl, comes from the band’s performance at Jay’s Upstairs in Missoula, MT, on June 15th, 2000. “Hello Operator” found itself in the two-hole on the record and features Jack White‘s signature garage rock sound along with Meg White‘s simplistic, blues-inspired drumming. As it becomes clear through the video, her drumming style is not due to a lack of ability (though she had just recently learned the instrument), but rather a feature of the band’s minimalistic approach to the blues, garage, and punk fusion they pioneered during the late ’90s and early 2000s.
The footage comes from what one can only assume is an old VHS or Hi8 recorder, and the sound is indicative of the time period in that it’s not the soundboard quality music-lovers usually expect. White Stripes fans, however, are not only used to these older recordings but cherish them, as even albums such as De Stijl were made in Jack White’s home with less-than-professional recording devices. That DIY, imperfect attitude manifests itself in many areas, including the live performance itself, which is completely improvisational from a setlist perspective. Throughout this rendition of “Hello Operator”, Jack is seen jumping from his forward-facing microphone to the stand next to Meg’s drumkit, firing off vocal and guitar lines with his “groggy” voice, as he explains at the beginning of the clip. He and Meg’s chemistry is on full display, as they follow each other with each nod of the head or blink of an eye.
Watch The White Stripes perform “Hello Operator” below, starting at the 10:34-minute mark.
Third Man Public Access Episode 3
Vault Package #44 is available to pre-order now until April 30th. The package, which ships in June, will include two LP’s containing previously unreleased studio and live tracks, as well as a DVD of the band’s full show at Jay’s Upstairs. Click here to pre-order and for more information.