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Paramount Masters / Various


Editorial Reviews

The Wisconsin Chair Company was established in 1888. The business expanded into timberland and sawmills. After making cabinets for the Edison Company's phonographs, they decided to make phonographs and phonograph records, under two brand names, Puritan and Paramount. In 1919, Art Satherly was put in overall charge of recording. Paramount's early releases stayed in the mainstream, with performances of the Star Spangled Banner featuring. To defray losses, they moved into the 'race' market. In the first half of the year, they leased material from the Black Swan label. J. Mayo Williams, a young black man with connections to Black Swan, convinced Paramount that they needed him to supervise their 'race' recordings. Williams was able to parlayed himself into a pivotal role within the company, creating his own empire and eclipsing Art Satherley'. Paramount was able to embark on a recovery program that brought a wealth of valuable music. Unfortunately, for many reasons, the label never succeeded as well as it might have done. That said, Paramount saw off most of its competition when it came to recording the blues that formed the greater part of its catalogue. Other labels had varying degrees of success and but ultimately went out of business or were absorbed into larger organisations. Although it had its fair share of 'classic' blues singers such as Ida Cox, Alberta Hunter, Trixie Smith, and the magnificent Gertrude 'Ma' Rainey, the area in which Paramount held most of its riches was its comprehensive list of country blues musicians, of every sex and stripe . What this compilation seeks to do is reflect the enormous scope of country and urban blues on Paramount. It's fair to assume that most of these 100 sides sold few copies when first issued. What's indisputable more than 70 years later is the uniformly high quality of the music these men and women made before they disappeared into history's backwaters.

Paramount Masters / Various

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