Jack White’s Third Man label teams with Revenant to release Rise & Fall of Paramount Records Volume 1.
Released last week in a collaboration between Jack White’s Third Man label and John Fahey’s Revenant Records, Rise & Fall of Paramount Records Volume 1. Each handcrafted box set set contains: 800 newly-remastered digital tracks on a USB drive shaped like a Victorola key; 200+ fully-restored original ads and images; 6 x 180g LPs with hand-engraved metal leaf center labels on burled vinyl; a deluxe large-format hardcover art book of 250 pages with narrative and full-color plates as well as an Encyclopedia-style reference manual and a field guide to artists & repertoire.
The box set is currently retailing for US$482!
Paramount Records was formed in 1917. Its founders ran a Wisconsin furniture company and knew nothing of the record business. Its mission was modest: produce records as cheaply as possible with whatever talent was available. Aapparently, the results were unequivocal: the records sounded bad and sold poorly. Paramount was soon on the threshold of bankruptcy.
In 1922 Paramount’s white owners embarked on a radical new business plan: selling the music of black artists to black audiences ( the music of the Race, or Race Records ). This move paid dramatic dividends and by 1927, Paramount was the most important label in the Race Records field, selling hundreds of thousands of records.
By the time Paramount ceased operations in 1932, it had compiled a stunning roster of performers spanning early jazz titans (Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton), Vaudeville songsters (Papa Charlie Jackson), the first solo guitar bluesmen (Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Blake), theater blues divas (Ma Rainey, Alberta Hunter, Ethel Waters), gospel (Norfolk Jubilee Quartette) and masters of Mississippi blues (Charley Patton, Son House, Skip James).
The Rise & Fall is claimed by label publicity to be crafted as ‘an object to keep and cherish for a lifetime, its form is designed to reveal evidence of the hand at work, to bring out the tactile richness of hand-sculpted woods and metals, and to meld the rough-hewn with the earliest burblings of American modernism in the 1920s.’