Look Ma! — Happy Mother’s Day!

Never a Pal Like Mother is a delightful collection of vintage songs and wistful black-and-white photographs, all of which relate, in one way or another, to the state and subject of maternity. It’s also a pitch-perfect Mother’s Day present.

Assembled, with a great deal of care, by Atlanta’s Dust-to-Digital record label, the book-slash-album package comes with two CDs, which contain 20 songs each. (“One was often permanently separated from one’s mother in early adulthood, or late adolescence, either by distance or death,” Rosanne Cash writes in the foreword. “A longing suffused the rest of life. … Out of that longing came these songs.”) You’ll hear tracks by the Louvin Brothers (“God Bless Her, She’s My Mother”), the Carter Family (“Hold Fast to the Right”), Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon (the wonderful “Mama Don’t Allow It,” which picks up where W. C. Handy’s “E.H. Crump Blues” left off), Leon Bukasa (“Masanga”), the Reverend J. M. Gates (“You Mother Heart Breakers”), Bob Wills (“Tie Me to Your Apron Strings Again”), and not a few others as you flip through the photographs. The earliest was recorded in 1927; the most recent, in 1956. And we’re giving away one of the best—“That’s No Way to Get Along,” by Robert Wilkins, which you might recognize as the basis of a Rolling Stones song called “Prodigal Son”—as an MP3 download.

Dust-to-Digital salutes all the mothers with an exquisitely-designed 96-page hardback book featuring 65 antique photographs from such noted collectors as Sarah Bryan and Jim Linderman. 

Included are two CDs containing 40 vintage recordings from 1927-1956 from such esteemed 78 collectors as Joe Bussard. 

“We can feel our American past here: how we lived, how hard we worked, how we were a nation of travelers and wanderers, how we held fast to our faith, how great our losses were, how quickly death came, and how often our mothers were the rock and the lighthouse, the home inside our hearts. These songs could never be written in the age of jet travel, therapy, delayed adolescence, the internet, nor could they survive current popular ideas of human psychology. They are pristine and deeply wrought sonic images, unfiltered through modern expectations, and are all the more refreshing and thrilling for being so. Those of us who treasure American roots music are listening to the very center of its essence in this anthology: a nearly century-old collection of songs about the most important person in the entire lexicon.” — Rosanne Cash, from the introduction to Never a Pal Like Mother

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