Will the Circle Be Unbroken [Bonus Tracks]

Will the Circle Be Unbroken [Bonus Tracks]

5.0 3
by The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

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Not to take anything away from the deserved success of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band were there first -- in 1972 -- accompanying a staggering assembly of bluegrass and traditional country giants on Will the Circle Be Unbroken, which featured songs associated with the


Not to take anything away from the deserved success of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, but the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band were there first -- in 1972 -- accompanying a staggering assembly of bluegrass and traditional country giants on Will the Circle Be Unbroken, which featured songs associated with the Carter Family, Roy Acuff, Merle Travis, and Jimmy Martin. Earl Scruggs sat in on banjo and took the lead on two of his own originals, "Flint Hill Special" and "Earl's Breakdown," plus the traditional instrumental "Soldier's Joy." Also on hand were Mother Maybelle Carter, fiddler Vassar Clements, guitarists Norman Blake and Randy Scruggs (Earl's son), Dobro player Pete "Oswald" Kirby, bassist Junior Huskey, and Doc Watson, who sang and picked. This Hall of Fame cast produced a powerful, exciting, and durable album. Highlights include Mother Maybelle's plain, potent voice packing an emotional punch on "I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes," Acuff's soul-piercing cry on "I Saw the Light," Travis's slick pickin' and genial vocal on his "Nine Pound Hammer," Clements's searing fiddle work on "Lonesome Fiddle Blues," and Watson being his irrepressible self, vocally and instrumentally, on the rollicking "Way Downtown." The studio banter -- particularly Acuff's -- is priceless. Will the Circle Be Unbroken is even more of a landmark than O Brother, and its long-overdue release on CD is not merely a welcome arrival but a spiritual blessing.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Bruce Eder
With all due respect to the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, it took the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with this album to come up with a merger of rock and country music that worked for both sides and everyone involved. The opening number, "The Grand Ole Opry Song," set the tone for the album, showing that this band -- for all of their origins in rock and popular music -- was willing to meet country music on its terms, rather than as a vehicle for embellishment as rock music. The result, without a false or strained note anywhere among its 37 songs, was an all-star country project that worked (and transcended its country and rock origins), with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band serving as catalyst and intersecting point for all of the talent involved, all of who gave superbly of themselves. Not only did this album result in new exposure to a new and wider audience for the likes of Mother Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis, and others, but this was the first real country album that a lot of rock listeners under the age of 30 ever heard. Thus, it opened up pathways and dialogue in all directions, across several generations and cultural barriers; the dialogue between Doc Watson and Merle Travis alone was almost worth the price of admission. This was also one of rock's very few multi-disc sets to be fully justified in its length and content; at a time when unnecessary double-LPs were all the rage, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and company gave a triple album that, if anything, left audiences asking for more. [The 2002 reissue adds four bonus tracks, though only "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" is a proper song; two of the others consist of warm-ups and studio chat, while "Remember Me" (featuring Doc Watson) is just a fragment.]

Product Details

Release Date:


Disc 1

  1. Grand Ole Opry Song
  2. Keep on the Sunny Side
  3. Nashville Blues
  4. You Are My Flower
  5. The Precious Jewel
  6. Dark as a Dungeon
  7. Tennessee Stud
  8. Black Mountain Rag
  9. Wreck on the Highway
  10. The End of the World
  11. I Saw the Light
  12. Sunny Side of the Mountain
  13. Nine Pound Hammer
  14. Losin' You (Might Be the Best Thing Yet)
  15. Honky Tonkin'
  16. You Don't Know My Mind
  17. My Walkin' Shoes

Disc 2

  1. Lonesome Fiddle Blues
  2. Cannonball Rag
  3. Avalanchie
  4. Flint Hill Special
  5. Togary Mountian
  6. Earl's Breakdown
  7. Orange Blossom Special
  8. Wabash Cannonball
  9. Lost Highway
  10. Doc Watson and Merle Travis: First Meeting
  11. Way Downtown
  12. Down Yonder
  13. Pins and Needles (In My Heart)
  14. Honky Tonk Blues
  15. Sailin' on to Hawaii
  16. I'm Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes
  17. I Am a Pilgrim
  18. Wildwood Flower
  19. Soldier's Joy
  20. Will the Circle Be Unbroken
  21. Both Sides Now
  22. Foggy Mountain Breakdown
  23. Warming Up for "The Opry"
  24. Sunny Side
  25. Remember Me

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band   Primary Artist
Norman Blake   Dobro
Earl Scruggs   Banjo
Roy Acuff   Vocals
Merle Travis   Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Doc Watson   Guitar,Background Vocals
Thompson   Mandolin,Background Vocals
Larry Murray   Background Vocals
Ray Martin   Background Vocals
John McEuen   Banjo
Mother Maybelle Carter   Guitar,Autoharp,Vocals
Mike Carr   Background Vocals
Vassar Clements   Fiddle
Fred Cross   Background Vocals
Jimmie Fadden   Harp
Jeff Hanna   Background Vocals,Washboard
Jimmy Martin   Guitar,Vocals,Background Vocals
Alice McEuen   Background Vocals,Handwriting
William McEuen   Guitar
Gary Scruggs   Background Vocals
Randy Scruggs   Guitar,Autoharp,Background Vocals
Steve Scruggs   Background Vocals
Roy Huskey   Bass
Chet Flippo   Background Vocals
Gloria Belle   Background Vocals
Martha Flippo   Background Vocals
Pete "Oswald" Kirby   Dobro
Ellis Padgett   Bass
Louise Scruggs   Background Vocals
Betty Travis   Background Vocals

Technical Credits

Earl Scruggs   Arranger
Merle Travis   Arranger
Doc Watson   Arranger,Adaptation
Thompson   Arranger
Larry Murray   Arranger
Ray Martin   Arranger
John McEuen   Arranger,Reissue Producer
Rex Collier   Engineer
Carlton "Santa" Davis   Repackaging Art Direction
Jeff Hanna   Arranger
Dino Lappas   Engineer,Contributor
Jimmy Martin   Arranger
Alice McEuen   Arranger
William McEuen   Arranger,Producer,Art Direction,Concept,Production Design
Joe Rogers   Repackaging Design
Gary Scruggs   Arranger
Randy Scruggs   Arranger
Steve Scruggs   Arranger
Roy Huskey   Arranger
Pete "Oswald" Kirby   Arranger
Ellis Padgett   Arranger
Louise Scruggs   Arranger
Betty Travis   Arranger
Dean Torrence   Graphic Design
Rick Horton   Engineer
Denise Jarvis   Repackaging Art Direction
Beecher Kirby   Composer

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Will the Circle Be Unbroken 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am SO glad to find this disc still available - first heard it in 1978, and have been looking for it ever since I lost my copy...an excellent sampler of seminal bluegrass for the beginner, and a welcome addition to every collection!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago