A major undertaking such as Before the Big Bang is only possible through the generosity of some of the most discerning record collectors. We’re not talking about the good folks who pursue the ultra rare electric blues and country (Paramount, etc.) and pay top dollar for the privilege of owning the discs.
It’s the handful of people who collect the world’s oldest recordings, many of them one of a kind. There’s an art to finding, understanding, and caring for those brown wax cylinders from the 1890s, the black moulded cylinders from the 1900s, and the earliest acoustically recorded discs such as Berliners and others. Some things are easy to find, but condition is key. We think you will be amazed at the quality of sound of these 167 selections.
Archeophone Records’ own collection of discs and cylinders has provided just under a third of the titles on the set, but after that we needed help. Approximately another third comes from the collection of David Giovannoni, our long-time collaborator and frequent co-producer. His holdings are focused but deep, meticulously organized and expertly transferred.
The final 40% comes from a variety of collaborators. Marshall Wyatt of Old Hat Records has contributed a number of early “hillbilly” sides—the type of material that music fans and scholars have come to expect of him. John Levin, our co-producer on the Charles Asbury vinyl set from 2018, has made available some of the most precious early recordings in existence. Colin Hancock, who is advising us on how to pitch the selections, not only opened his collection but also made several playlist suggestions. The American Folklife Collection of the Libarary of Congress, the Davidson Library at the University of California-Santa Barbara, and the Great 78 Project have also been rich resources.
Folks who graciously contributed a record or two include Tim Brooks and Paul Charosh, the late Allen Debus, Michael Devecka, Ken Flaherty, Davis Hart, Charley Hummel, Darrell Lehman and Paul Christenzen, the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University, R. Connor Montgomery, Sterling Morris, the late Jack Raymond, Kinney Rorrer, Chuck Shaffer, Adam Swanson, and Jeffrey Wood.
We are deeply grateful to all these kind friends!