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The first volume in this collection was called "spectacular" (New York Times), "unprecedented" (Rolling Stone), "breathtaking" (Boing Boing), and "a cabinet of wonder, indeed" (Pitchfork). The second volume was hailed by Wired as "the ultimate box set of iconic American music" before it even came out.
How did a Wisconsin chair company, producing records on the cheap and run by men with little knowledge of their audience or the music business, build one of the greatest musical rosters ever assembled under one roof? The answer lies in ‘The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records 1917-1932,’ this epic, two-volume omnibus of art, words and music housed in a limited-edition, hand-sculpted cabinet-of-wonder, to be jointly released by Jack White’s Third Man Records and John Fahey’s Revenant Records. ‘Volume One,’ covers the label’s improbable rise from 1917-1927.
Paramount Records was founded on a modest proposition: produce records as cheaply as possible, recording whatever talent was available. Over its lifetime, the label would become a “race records” powerhouse, its sound and fortunes directly linked to the Great Migration.
By the time Paramount ceased operations in 1932, it had compiled a dizzying array of performers still unrivaled to this day, spanning early jazz titans (Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller), blues masters (Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Son House, Skip James), American divas (Ma Rainey, Alberta Hunter, Ethel Waters), gospel (Norfolk Jubilee Quartette), vaudeville (Papa Charlie Jackson), and the indefinable “other” (Geeshie Wiley, Elvie Thomas). Paramount would also directly influence the style of Robert Crumb and countless other 20th century artists and illustrators, through a series of hand-drawn ads promoting its releases in the pages of the Chicago Defender.
The ‘Rise and Fall’ wonder-cabinet gives equal status to page-turning narrative and new scholarship; original and newly created graphic art; industrial design; and compelling analog and digital music experiences. ‘Volume One’ contains the following:
* 800 newly-remastered digital tracks, representing 172 artists
* 200+ fully-restored original 1920s ads and images
* 6x 180g vinyl LPs pressed on burled chestnut colored vinyl w/ hand-engraved, blind-embossed gold-leaf labels, housed in a laser-etched white birch LP folio
* 250 page deluxe large-format clothbound hardcover art book
* 360 page encyclopedia-style softcover field guide containing artist portraits and full Paramount discography
* Handcrafted quarter-sawn oak cabinet with lush sage velvet upholstery and custom-forged metal hardware
* First-of-its-kind music and image player app, allowing user mgmt of all tracks and ads, housed on custom-designed USB drive
*Dimensions: Length 18.5"/ Width 16"/ Height 5.75"
But just as it seemed Paramount might be losing steam, it began a second act that threatened to dwarf its first. This astonishing second act is the subject of The Rise & Fall of Paramount, Volume Two (1928-32), the final chapter in our commemoration of America's greatest record label.
In its final 5 year push from 1928-32, Paramount embarked on a furious run for the ages, birthing the entire genre of Mississippi Delta blues recordings and issuing some of the most coveted records in the history of wax - a staggering playlist including Skip James, Charley Patton, Son House, Tommy Johnson, Willie Brown, King Solomon Hill, Tampa Red, Lottie Kimbrough, Rube Lacy, Meade Lux Lewis, Buddy Boy Hawkins, Jaydee Short, George "Bullet" Williams, Cow Cow Davenport, Clifford Gibson, Ishman Bracey, Louise Johnson, Geeshie Wiley & Elvie Thomas, The Mississippi Sheiks. and hundreds of other artists.
Paramount simply killed. But more than that, it changed how this country thought of itself. It was the first enterprise of any kind to capture what America really sounded like in the 1920s and '30s - on its street corners, at its fish fries and country suppers, in its nightclubs and dance halls and showtents. In the process, it was profit-minded Paramount - not a preservationist body like the Library of Congress - that inadvertently created the most significant repository of this young nation's greatest art form.
Six LPs, 800 digital tracks, two definitive large-format books. All housed in a polished aluminum case evoking the era's high art deco stylings and America's own Machine Age take on modernist design.
A joint release by Third Man and Revenant, co-produced by leading Paramount scholar Alex van der Tuuk, with all Paramount masters issued under license agreement with GHB Jazz Foundation.
* 800 newly-remastered digital tracks, representing 175 artists. View digital track list.
* 90+ fully-restored original 1920s-30s Paramount ads from The Chicago Defender
* 6 x 180g LPs pressed on label-less alabaster-white vinyl, each side with its own hand-etched numeral and holographic image. View complete LP track list.
* 250 pg. large-format clothbound hardcover book featuring original Paramount art and the label's curious tale
* 400 pg. encyclopedia-style softcover field guide containing artist bios & portraits and full Paramount discography
* First-of-its-kind music and image player app containing all tracks and ads, housed on custom metal USB drive
* Polished aluminum and stainless steel "Machine Age" cabinet, upholstered in sapphire blue velvet
More Info About The Rise & Fall of Paramount, 1917-32
Notice: Unlike the brushed aluminum chassis used by modern product manufacturers - a process which dulls the finish so as to hide the slight irregularities naturally occurring in the process of molded aluminum forms - we have elected to treat the aluminum finish in a manner appropriate to the Machine Age era. All aluminum surfaces have undergone several polishing stages to maintain a mirror-like finish, and then been anodized for durability and high gloss. This anodization process can reveal subtle surface irregularities in the aluminum form which would be absent in a more muted finish, but we think the payoff in overall character is worth it. WE DO NOT REGARD THESE AS DEFECTS, SO IF THIS FREAKS YOU OUT THEN THIS MAY NOT BE THE PRODUCT FOR YOU.