The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume Two (1928-32)

Released: 2014
Grammy Award Winner, 2016 – Best Special or Limited Edition Package Design

Contents: The second and final installment of Paramount’s curious tale, presented in a wunderkammer format:  Two lavish, large-format books (one hardcover art and narrative book on the label itself, one softcover “field manual” reference guide to 172 of its artists and their repertoire); 800 digital tracks and 100 images managed via a custom-designed app on a streamline-moderne sculpted metal eagle USB drive; 6 deluxe 180g milk-white label-less vinyl records with hand-etched “scratch holograms” in place of their labels; housed in a vintage velvet-upholstered, 1930s “machine age” polished aluminum case.

To purchase:

Unboxing Video for the Volume Two Wonder-cabinet

In 2013, Jack White’s Third Man and John Fahey’s Revenant issued The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-27), the first installment of the curious tale of America’s most important record label. It was called “spectacular” (New York Times), “unprecedented” (Rolling Stone), “breathtaking” (Boing Boing), “a cabinet of wonder, indeed” (Pitchfork), and “the most perfectly realized attempt to combine music and documentation” (Fretboard Journal) and “damnedest musical objet d’art” (Nashville Scene) folks had ever seen.

2014 brings Third Man-Revenant’s final volume in the Paramount story – The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume Two (1928-32).

As Volume Two begins, Paramount is entitled to a breather – in the previous 5 years it’s been home to giants like King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Alberta Hunter, Blind Blake, Ethel Waters, Ma Rainey, Papa Charlie Jackson, Eubie Blake, Fletcher Henderson, Big Bill Broonzy, Roosevelt Sykes, James P. Johnson, Jaybird Coleman, Clarence Williams, and Fats Waller.

But just as it seems the label might be losing steam, it begins a second act that threatens to dwarf its first. In its final 5 year push from 1928-32, Paramount embarks on a furious run for the ages, birthing the entire recorded genre of Mississippi Delta blues and issuing some of the most coveted recordings in the history of wax – a staggering playlist including Skip James, Charley Patton, Son House, Tommy Johnson, Blind Roosevelt Graves, Willie Brown, King Solomon Hill, Tampa Red, Georgia Tom Dorsey, Little Brother Montgomery, Lottie Kimbrough, Rube Lacy, Meade Lux Lewis, Buddy Boy Hawkins, Ramblin’ Thomas, Jaydee Short, George “Bullet” Williams, Cow Cow Davenport, Clifford Gibson, Ishman Bracey, Charlie Spand, Jabo Williams, Louise Johnson, Blind Joe Taggart, Geeshie Wiley & Elvie Thomas, and The Mississippi Sheiks.

Paramount simply killed. But more than that, it changed how this country thought of itself. It was the first and most comprehensive chronicler of 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-motivated Paramount – not a preservationist-minded enterprise 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 modernism.


Itemized Contents:

* 800 newly-remastered digital tracks, representing 175 artists

* 90+ fully-restored original 1920s-30s Paramount ads from Chicago Defender

* 6 x 180g LPs pressed on label-less alabaster-white vinyl, each side with its own hand-etched numeral and hand-scratched holographic image 

* 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 streamline moderne USB drive

* Polished aluminum and stainless steel cabinet, evoking 1930s high art deco stylings and America’s own Machine Age modernism 



The treasures in the sets are staggering and sprawling, capable of inducing laughter, heartache, belief, and disbelief. There is bedrock and bedlam alike.” -Pitchfork (8.8 Best New Reissue)

“This year’s most tantalizing splurge.” – NY Times

“A follow-up to last year’s behemoth box set, this second volume is no less impressive…” – Boston Globe

“…For connoisseurs of this remarkable music, [Vol II] arrives as a prized possession.” –Wall Street Journal

“‘The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records Vol II’ blows away expectations.” – The Atlantic

“It was never a mystery that there would be a second volume. But we weren’t expecting it to be so impressive in such different ways.” – Wired

“Jazz, rock, urban blues and a lot of the best country all owe a debt to early blues artists. And one highly original rocker — Jack White — has now stepped in to rescue a priceless blues archive from obscurity…” – CBS This Morning

“One of the most intriguing boxes of 2014…the fetish object of the season. ” – Philly Inquirer

“Exotically entertaining.” – Creative Loafing

“Crumbling remnants of foundation are all that remains of the Wisconsin Chair Co. factory…but what has been made here will endure forever. Not the furniture. The music.” – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel