Rock star Jack White teams up with tiny Scottish record label
ROCK legend Jack White has teamed up with a tiny Scottish record label that he credits with helping launch his career.
The former White Stripes frontman was inspired by recordings of early blues, country and jazz artists released by Document Records based in Dumfries and Galloway.
The acclaimed singer and guitarist astonished the husband and wife team behind Document by calling out of the blue with an irresistible business proposal.
White suggested putting the muscle of his own label, Third Man Records, behind Document and rereleasing a selection of classic albums that inspired other great musicians including Bob Dylan.
Gary and Gillian Atkinson, from Bladnoch, will start putting out the albums – described by Third Man Records as the “building blocks and DNA” of modern music – next week.
The couple say the deal with White will bring their incredible catalogue of some 25,000 pre-1945 recordings to a global audience.
The first three, vinyl-only albums, are released on January 29, featuring remastered recordings by blues legends Blind Willie McTell, Charley Patton and the Mississippi Sheiks.
Dylan was influenced by Patton and White, 37, has said McTell was the main inspiration for his own musical career.
Gary said Document Records got an email from Nashville-based Third Man in 2011, after the White Stripes split. The message asked if they were interested in working together.
A few weeks later the phone rang at their home.
Gary said: “I was working upstairs, and I could hear Gill talking to somebody for about 15 minutes, and I didn’t think anything of it.
“Then I heard her saying ‘That’s Jack White on the phone’.”
He added: “We were like two daft teenagers on the phone. It was all about obscure music. If anyone was listening in on the conversation they would have just started yawning away and dose off.
“He very, very excitedly told me about how, as a kid, the first bunch of albums he bought were from Document Records, and he had been a big fan of the label ever since.
“He described it as his dream to have recordings from the label reissued on vinyl and, mimic if you like, how we produce all of our CDs. It’s all very nerdy this process but I prefer to call it intellectual.”
“We were just so excited when he phoned. It just astonished me to know he knew the label.
“His company has nothing to do with what we are. I mean, where we are is in the middle of the country. It’s very beautiful, very scenic and in the south of Scotland. It’s all just sheep and cows here.”
After meeting face-to-face on White’s recent UK tour, the writer of Seven Nation Army chose the first three records for reissue.
But Gary said he did not want his involvement restricted to just handing over tracks.
“I wanted to roll my sleeves up and be more involved,” he said. “I asked him if we should just see how these three albums go. See what he wanted to do and how they went, but Jack just replied, ‘No, we’re in for the long haul.’”
“We contact each other a lot, mainly by email. If I can’t nail down Jack, I can call Ben, his nephew who works at Third Man.”
Gillian said: “What this collaboration has done…is open up a whole new younger market and he’s reaching it. It’s moved us out of the genre of the stereotypical blues lover, which is sort of like Gary and me.”
Gillian said she thought White was “taking a chance” on the reissued recordings but added: “He told me there had already been 900 pre-orders per title.”
Third Man Records said in a statement: “The recordings we’ll be presenting in this reissue series are the building blocks and DNA of American culture, Blues, R&B, Elvis, teenagerism, punk, rock…it all goes back to these vital, breathtaking recordings.”
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