CD Review - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - 
Will the Circle Be Unbroken (Capitol)
Reviewed by Glenn Weiser
Metroland - April 4, 2002

For many in the Woodstock generation, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s 1972 landmark album Will the Circle Be Unbroken was their introduction to the music of Appalachia. And for some of the older artists on the record, who had had their signature hits in the 1930s and ’40s, the album marked the first time they were recorded with modern studio technology.

That the project took place at all was a small miracle: Bill Monroe refused to record with the long-haired Dirt Band, and Roy Acuff was mistrustful of them until he heard some tracks in the studio and realized that they really could play like the old-timers. Earl Scruggs persuaded many of the others to take part in the recording.

To commemorate its 30th anniversary, the album that could be called the original O Brother, Where Art Thou? is back in a digitally remastered, two-CD, 42-track bonanza of plain singing and fancy picking. Highlights of album—which features the Dirt Band joined by stellar guests including Doc Watson, Vassar Clements, Jimmy Martin, Norman Blake and others—include Mother Maybelle Carter’s plaintive vocals on “Keep on the Sunny Side,” Doc Watson’s sparkling flatpicking on “Black Mountain Rag,” and Merle Travis’ fingerpicking showpiece “Cannonball Rag.”

List of Metroland Stories by Glenn Weiser   ©2002 by Glenn Weiser. All rights reserved.

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