Last month, Jack White's Third Man Records teamed with John Fahey's Revenant Records to honor a long-gone label: Wisconsin's Paramount Records, a treasure trove of early 20th century "race records." The tribute came via The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records 1917-1932, a two-volume retrospective that, as Third Man describes it, is "housed in a limited-edition, hand-sculpted cabinet-of-wonder."
The first volume arrived on November 19 (the same night as a swank public listening session at the New York Public Library), with the second set to drop next year. To promote the just-released collection, White recently appeared on Charlie Rose alongside Revenant Records co-founder Dean Blackwood to discuss Paramount Records, its legacy, the box set, and more.
"Paramount is a strange part of the history of record labels in America," White said on the December 26 broadcast, noting that the label was started by a furniture company to help cabinets for phonographs. The Dead Weather member explained that the project grew out of a simple idea: "How can we put this all together into something bigger to bring attention to all of these lost gems and these people who recorded only one record or maybe two records? Let's put something together where it's a massive amount of music."
Enter the first installment of The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, featuring 800 remastered tracks from 172 artists, all recorded between 1917 and 1927. Also included: More than 200 restored advertisements and images, six heavy duty LPs, a 250-page clothbound hardcover art book, and a 360-page "encyclopedia-style" field guide with information on the artists.
To see White talk lovingly of the music contained within the "cabinet-of-wonder," watch his entire interview with Charlie Rose above.