Jack White's Third Man Records To Co-Release Paramount Records Set
Posted by Joseph Lee on 09.25.2013
Featuring 800 songs…
Rolling Stone reports that Jack White's Third Man Records is set to release Paramount Records set. The company was first created in 1917 by the Wisconsin Chair Company and pressed and shipped thousands of 78-RPM records from top-tier musicians, spending as little as possible. The catalog featured names like Louis Armstrong, Ma Rainey, Fletcher Henderson, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Jelly Roll Morton, King Oliver and Ethel Walters, among others.
Third Man will team up with John Fahey's Revenant Records to put out a archival release called The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27). It will be released on October 29 on Third Man, with a worldwide release on November 19.
The set features 800 songs (volume 2 in November 2014 will have the same number), 200 restored ads and images, two books (one a history of Paramount, the other a guide to artists and recordings) and six 180-gram vinyl LPs. All LPs come in a hand-crafted oak case modeled after the ones that held phonographs in the 1920s. It will also feature a special USB drive with a music and image app with indexes that let you explore the collection.
The six vinyl LPs also contain 87 cuts each. The records look at the entire roster, mixing big names and what Revenant co-founded Dean Blackwood said were "not even one-hit wonders, they're one or two recording wonders."
The project had a team of 30-50 people, including artists, writers (Blackwood's brother Scott wrote the label's story), historians and record collectors. It's Revenant's first release in ten years. The project began two years ago when Blackwood showed White a timeline of Paramount's history.
Blackwood said: "That was really the revelatory moment, just sort of staring at that timeline on my wall, like, 'Why hasn't this story been told?' It's funny. You have people whose business it was, like the Library of Congress, to preserve these bits of, in this case, African American culture, and yet it was a commercial record company, like Paramount, who didn't give a shit about any of that! They wanted to move a record, they only cared what was selling this week, and had no idea of any kind of preservation mentality, unless it was going to be useful to them to repress a record and sell it. They ended up unintentionally being this source for the greatest archive efforts in American arts."
Blackwood admits that the songs collected on the set are only a small amount of the total catalog, thanks to their poor record keeping will never be completely revealed. He said it's less of a definitive box set and more of a mini museum exhibit.