Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Will The Circle Be Unbroken (Capitol) Rating: NNNNN Rating: NNNNN
Nashville paid no more attention to the bunch of longhairs trying to connect with their musical heritage 30 years ago than it did to the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Today, the circle remains unbroken thanks to the dabbling of music-loving outsiders like the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. They knew that country greats Mother Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis and Roy Acuff hadn't lost their awesome power despite being cast aside by the industry they helped build, and proved it by giving them an opportunity to shine. And they certainly do on this brilliantly remastered two-disc reissue (originally released in 1972), complete with between-song studio chatter that adds folksy informality and warmth to the performances of these mythic figures. In the conspicuous absence of Bill Monroe, self-proclaimed "king of bluegrass" Jimmy Martin steals the show.