Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Chuck Nessa

George Buck takes a stand

17 posts in this topic

Damn. 'Twould be a shame for Paramounts to be available only in gigantic expensive boxes. Surely Off The Record got Lars' group's permission to reissue the Paramount Olivers.

And while that grand Ayler box led me to admire Revenant, I don't know what to make of this. Except that the Fantasy fiasco has led to a dread of movie stars buying jazz record companies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just assumed that the big Paramount box was properly licensed.

I will say that I've been quite disappointed with the Jazzology group's handling of the Paramount catalog. They put out an interesting "complete" (no alternate takes) Paramount Charley Patton set - it was arranged, not in chronological order of recording, but in order of issue, so that the listener could experience the music as a series of 78s, as the original record buyers did. They've also issued all (I think) of Johnny Dodds' recordings for Paramount on two CDs - but arranged kind of eccentrically, with some sessions split across the two discs.

Beyond that, it's been kind of a mess, with many tracks issued on themed collections rather than in complete, coherent fashion. They issued one Ida Cox disc 18 years ago, with promises to release the rest, but nothing else has appeared. I had the two or three Ma Rainey discs they issued for years, but finally got tired of waiting for them to complete the series - I sold the CDs and bought the JSP set. The JSP set may not be legit, but it exists - at least they issued the stuff. Same for Blind Lemon Jefferson - I have his complete recordings, but not on a GHB label, because they haven't issued the Blind Lemon recordings in any coherent form.

The GHB foundation is wise to protect their property, but it's a shame they haven't done more with the amazing treasure trove they are sitting on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I totally agree with jeffcrom. I love the GHB Jazz Foundation and own hundreds and hundreds of CDs, LPs, books and videos from them but they only issue about one Black Swan CD per year and they are mostly collections. Not sure why they don't do some huge sets of The Complete Paramount Blues Recordings, Jazz Recordings, etc. I can only assume it would be too expensive and time consuming.

In any case, it's common knowledge that the Buck Foundation owns the Paramount material and I hope they can produce enough evidence of it to make Revenant rethink its plans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope so too. I think the Buck foundation has problems. Their owner was old and is now gone. They had certain pace to their releases that slowed down and down and down. . . . NOT the best climate for big box sets of pre-tape material that needs a lot of work to sound their best. They could have concentrated on licensing, and I hope that Revenant and White can get their work fully licensed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have heard some of the things on the new Paramount box and they are incredible - a lot of early black gospel and related music, to me some of the most beautiful things of the 20th century. As Jeff in particular indicated above, issue it or let somebody else do it.

Edited by AllenLowe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't believe that's quite what Jeff wrote. Perhaps I'm misreading his post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting situation. Though other companies over the years have sought the Buck Foundation's permission, I really wonder just what kind of rights the Foundation even really has. If the catalog was acquired in 1970, there was no federal copyright for sound recordings at that time, just a patchwork of state laws against selling pirated counterfeit copies, mostly. In other words, the Buck Foundation may have for years been asserting a right they didn't even really have. I know of record companies that have tried that and gotten away with it lots of times -- asserting copyright they did not even really have. (There ought to be a law against THAT. That's tampering with the public domain, to put it politely!) Just because you get away with asserting a right does not necessarily mean you have it, even with the best of intentions and non-profit status.

Most likely, though, White and Revenant just didn't do their homework on this or made bad assumptions. That'd be a shame.

Edited by Neal Pomea

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just assumed that the big Paramount box was properly licensed.

I will say that I've been quite disappointed with the Jazzology group's handling of the Paramount catalog. They put out an interesting "complete" (no alternate takes) Paramount Charley Patton set - it was arranged, not in chronological order of recording, but in order of issue, so that the listener could experience the music as a series of 78s, as the original record buyers did. They've also issued all (I think) of Johnny Dodds' recordings for Paramount on two CDs - but arranged kind of eccentrically, with some sessions split across the two discs.

Beyond that, it's been kind of a mess, with many tracks issued on themed collections rather than in complete, coherent fashion. They issued one Ida Cox disc 18 years ago, with promises to release the rest, but nothing else has appeared. I had the two or three Ma Rainey discs they issued for years, but finally got tired of waiting for them to complete the series - I sold the CDs and bought the JSP set. The JSP set may not be legit, but it exists - at least they issued the stuff. Same for Blind Lemon Jefferson - I have his complete recordings, but not on a GHB label, because they haven't issued the Blind Lemon recordings in any coherent form.

The GHB foundation is wise to protect their property, but it's a shame they haven't done more with the amazing treasure trove they are sitting on.

Black Swan is definitely GHB's weak link... But are they really sitting on a treasure trove? Since there no Paramount masters to own, how many Paramount label records do they have at hand & have access to? Definitely lots of Document label titles deserved better presentation/sound, likewise the crappy JSP knockoffs (some of which do have decent themes.)

Black Europe >>>>> Paramount Box qua anthology commerce (MP3s+ steamer trunk false 'luxury')

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope so too. I think the Buck foundation has problems. Their owner was old and is now gone. They had certain pace to their releases that slowed down and down and down. . . . NOT the best climate for big box sets of pre-tape material that needs a lot of work to sound their best. They could have concentrated on licensing, and I hope that Revenant and White can get their work fully licensed.

Well, they've had a (non-profit) board for years, so I'm not sure how much George Buck's death has had to do with the slowdown in their release schedule. I assumed that it had to do more with the slowdown in CD sales. And I imagine that the market for their product is aging and diminishing even more than the market for most music.

I have heard some of the things on the new Paramount box and they are incredible - a lot of early black gospel and related music, to me some of the most beautiful things of the 20th century. As Jeff in particular indicated above, issue it or let somebody else do it.

I don't believe that's quite what Jeff wrote. Perhaps I'm misreading his post.

No, that's not quite what I said, but I understand how Allen read that into my comments, and I kind of agree with his "issue it or let somebody else do it" statement.

And Moms posted while I was writing this. Sure, there are no masters, but there are 78s. Their Paramount issues so far sound pretty good (for Paramount reissues), and presumably were mastered from 78s, so I'm guessing that they some access to the collectors' network. I just think that, whatever the source material they have access to, they haven't done it justice.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad that White and Blackwell's box set is out there. Who else would be willing to commit to such an obvious labor of love, and actually make it happen? When the two were on Charlie Rose (not that that's any great litmus test), their sense of earnestness and respect for the music was palpable. I can only imagine that that box set will lose them money.

Blackwell is on record that he's willing to work with the GHB Foundation regarding the dispute at hand. Perhaps Neal Pomea's right — perhaps White and Blackwell made some bad assumptions. And, if Mr. Pomea is also right about federal copyright in the year 1970, what's exactly at issue? I think White and Blackwell's "stand" for the music itself is ultimately more admirable than a stand — and a seemingly tenuous stand — for what, on the surface, appears to be a money grab.

The underlying irony is that Paramount could essentially have cared less about the music.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although none of us can be sure about other folks' motivations, I doubt that this is a money grab by the GHB group. They've always been pretty aggressive about protecting their holdings. There was a case about 15 or so years ago when Fantasy issued some material that GHB owned (by George Lewis, if I remember correctly). They complained, and settled, but the resolution didn't involve money - GHB withdrew their complaint in return for permission to issue some Kid Ory material owned by Fantasy. And the agreement wasn't exclusive - you could still buy the same material on a Fantasy label at the same time.

But yes, it's obvious to me that the new Paramount box is a labor of love, and wasn't designed to make anyone a fortune.

I'm with thirdtry that GHB's ownership of Paramount is common knowledge in the music world. If the courts say otherwise, so be it, of course.

Edited by jeffcrom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well, I was reading this: "...it's a shame that they haven' done more with the amazing treasure trove they are sitting on."

Love it or leave it, I always say.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

well, I was reading this: "...it's a shame that they haven' done more with the amazing treasure trove they are sitting on."

Love it or leave it, I always say.

You mean love it or lease it, right? :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.