Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

  • Will the Circle Be Unbroken [United Artists, 1972] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Will the Circle Be Unbroken [United Artists, 1972]
A public service by what is ordinarily a fairly weak-minded folk-rock aggregation, this three-record set unites six great traditional country singers--Mother Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Roy Acuff, Merle Travis, and Jimmy Martin (of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys) with old-time material so tried and true that even this unreconstructed urbanite has heard most of it before. But rarely with such easy pleasure. All of the obvious pitfalls--uninspired performances, schlocky backup, arty or arbitrary programming, and of course folkie irrelevance--are avoided, and if the set is never definitive, it's an instant classic nevertheless, an intensely agreeable way into mountain music. As for the Dirt Band, Jimmy Martin was so impressed with their alertness that he offered to hire them, and I'm sorry they didn't take him up on it. A-

Further Notes:

Everything Rocks and Nothing Ever Dies [1990s]