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Dust-To-Digital (DTD24)

Robert Dennis, Richard Williams, Ella Mae Wilson, Willie Gillard, Emmett Murray, Moses Williams, Johnny Brown, Testerina Primitive Baptist Church, Miccosukee Church Of God Of Prophecy, Florida-Alabama Progressive Seven-Shape-Note Singing Convention, Southeast Alabama And Florida Union Sacred Harp Singing Convention

A stupendous release from another of the labels you can rely on for top quality releases.

What they have done here is to take an obscure 1981 LP consisting of contemporary (at the time) field recordings of blues and gospel performers and transferred it to CD, increasing the number of tracks available to a total of 63 (eminently achievable in the CD era but not really possible to do when we only had LPs). All of this music is wrapped up in a stunning high quality hardback book of more than 200 pages incorporating the original albums liner notes and inclusions but also featuring new essays from blues scholars, detailed profiles on the artists and the tracks and loads of great photographs.

The book is fantastically impressive, the music on the CDs more so. Few of the artists seemed to be concerned with the intrusion of the microphone so you get a real sense of country blues as it was played in the homes for friends and family and gospel as it was sung by the choirs in the churches. A rare treat indeed, and not often to be found on recordings made when the musicians knew the tapes were rolling.

Of the musicians that were more obviously recording for posterity, there seems to be greater level of seriousness involved in fulfilling a complete performance, and some of these are nothing short of tremendous. Emmett Murray's plugged in back porch tracks are truly memorable and Johnny Brown's tracks are reminiscent of the best religious songs of Mississippi Fred McDowell. And if you like to hear Baptist Church choirs and Singing Conventions at their most fervent , this is the place to climb aboard.

Overall, this is already a candidate for the ‘Best of 2013' listing and it is only January! I'm just not sure if it will be entered for the Best Book Award (viewing the CDs as a super bonus) or the Best CD Award (taking the view that the book comes as a ridiculously splendid extra to the music). This early in the year, such niceties  don't matter. It simply is just a stunning collection that anyone with an interest in blues and gospel should find a place for in their home.

Review Date: January 2013

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