Various artists

Fight On, Your Time Ain’t Long

For the enthusiastic collector, Mississippi Records’ releases are plastic manna. The Portland, Ore., label appreciates the inherent value in possessing a bewitching, unique aesthetic/brand: Releases are pressed on vinyl, limited to just 1,000 copies, and stamped with DIY cover art. Fortunately, Mississippi is not just about pretty wrapping paper. The antiquated treasures the label unearths are straight from that rich vein of obscure Americana folklorists like Alan Lomax spent a lifetime archiving. This latest compilation features 12 tracks of bluegrass gospel from 1927 to 1934. The music is stark—leads, with the occasional background vocals offering counterpoint, over acoustic guitar lines that are finger-plucked folksy or evoke Robert Johnson—yet wholly emotive. Hear Blind Joe Taggart’s bellowed “hallelujahs” in “The Storm Is Passing Over,” Mother McCollum’s pleasure over potentially being rewarded for a lifetime of servitude in “Take My Vacation in Heaven,” and the communal defiance in McIntorsh and Edwards’ “Take a Stand.” These are earthed-over ditties committed to tape for one purpose: to sanctify and conserve a culture’s rituals and mythos. It couldn’t be any further from the top 40—and it couldn’t sound any more compelling.