[coll] Goodbye, Babylon [Dust-to-Digital]
Probably the definitive collection of American religious-themed music since the dawn of recorded sound. Producer Lance Ledbetter founded the Dust-to-Digital label to release this project, calling on experts from the worlds of American music scholarship and record collecting to find the most idiosyncratic and heartfelt spiritual music drawn from all manner of styles, including gospel, folk, country, blues, and jazz, as well as fiery sermons delivered by ministers who often were just as popular as the musical artists of the time. Over 150 tracks span the 6 CDs here, mostly transferred from 78 rpm records, with the sermons taking up the entirety of the sixth CD. And drawing on his experience as a radio programmer, Mr. Ledbetter sequenced each disc by themes, rather than genre, resulting in a huge variety of styles on each disc, far more rewarding for extended listening than a purely chronological or genre-specific collection would have been. As if that wasn’t enough, the set is accompanied by a massive paperbound book that provides biographies of every artist, as well as useful historical and/or cultural information to give some context to each selection. It’s nearly impossible to single out any individual tracks as standouts, given the overall quality and quantity of the contents, but suffice to say that those who enjoy the full spectrum of American music forms will find plenty to get excited about here.