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Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Will the Circle Be Unbroken Click here to see this CD at Amazon.com!

By Alanna Nash

In an age when the old-timey soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? sells 5 million copies, it's hard to imagine how revolutionary Will the Circle Be Unbroken seemed upon its release 30 years ago. The triple album (now rereleased as a two-CD set) paired many of Nashville's venerable country and bluegrass performers (Roy Acuff, Mother Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Jimmy Martin, Vassar Clements) with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, or as Acuff called them, "a bunch of long-haired West Coast boys." The idea seemed nearly as foreign as Martians setting down in Tennessee, but the Dirt Band were Colorado hippies steeped in the genre, so there was no disputing the authenticity of the music, or its earthy appeal. Aside from the sheer joy of the performances (listen to Jimmy Martin's "whoop" on "Sunny Side of the Mountain"), there's great fun in hearing Roy Acuff give the boys a lesson in doing a song right the first time (and using the word hell before launching into a religious number). And Mother Maybelle wafts through like a benevolent ghost, or at least a patron saint. One caveat: The boast of four previously unreleased tracks is balderdash, since three are really between-track conversations and rehearsals, and only "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" qualifies as a real song. But that's nitpicking. Buy it. Love it. Wallow in it. O brother, that's country music!

By Mark Park

A history-making event for both popular and country music, this album brought together the hippieish Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with some of the all-time legends of country and bluegrass music, including Roy Acuff, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and Mother Maybelle Carter herself. It may not sound earth-shaking now, but in the days before Johnny Cash covered Soundgarden songs, there wasn't too much mixing going on between Nashville and the longhair camp. The result: an epochal meeting of minds exploring the joys of gospel, bluegrass, and old-time country music. Check out traditional acoustic gems like "Wildwood Flower," "Orange Blossom Special," "Soldier's Joy," and of course the heart-wrenching title track. Sixteen years later, Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume Two made for a worthy sequel to this seminal cross-cultural experiment.

Tracks
1. Grand Ole Opry Song24. Avalanchie
2. Keep on the Sunnyside25. Flint Hill Special
3. Nashville Blues26. Foggy Mountain Breakdown
4. You Are My Flower27. Warming Up for The Opry (talk)
5. Precious Jewel28. Sunny Side (talk)
6. Dark as a Dungeon29. Remember Me
7. Tennessee Stud30. Lost Highway
8. Black Mountain Rag31. Doc Watson and Merle Travis: First Meeting -
9. Wreck on the Highway32. Way Downtown
10. End of the World33. Down Yonder
11. I Saw the Light34. Pins and Needles (In My Heart)
12. Sunny Side of the Mountain35. Honky Tonk Blues
13. Nine Pound Hammer36. Sailin' on to Hawaii
14. Losin' You (Might Be the Best Thing Yet)37. I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes
15. Honky Tonkin'38. I Am a Pilgrim
16. You Don't Know My Mind39. Wildwood Flower
17. My Wakin' Shoes40. Soldier's Joy
18. Togary Mountain41. Will the Circle Be Unbroken
19. Earl's Breakdown42. Both Sides Now
20. Orange Blossom Special43. Foggy Mountain Breakdown [#]
21. Wabash Cannonball44. Warming Up for The Opry [Talk] [#]
22. Lonesome Fiddle Blues45. Sunny Side [Talk] [#]
23. Cannonball Rag46. Remember Me [#]

 

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MUSICAL NOTES

Artist: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Released: February 19, 1972

Availability: CD, Vinyl

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