The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “Great American Radio Vol. 9”

Retroworld Records, 2021

Enjoyable Nitty Gritty Dirt Band live performances from 1974.

NGDB Great American Radio vol 9 album cover artThis collection is the ninth in a series of Retroworld’s archival releases of concerts and studio performances broadcast on American radio in the ’70’s. The two CD’s are taken from two 1974 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band live performances in Nashville and Hempstead, New York at the early peak of the band’s long-standing career. 

The New York performance, like many in this series, was recorded at Ultrasonic Studios on Long Island and broadcast live on local rock station WLIR-FM on their Tuesday night concert program. Ultrasonic had a live room and high-quality recording equipment that engineers still lovingly rave about today. It’s probably for this reason that the second disc, taken from the WLIR show, is somewhat better than the first one. It also features a guest appearance by composer John Hartford.

The recordings on both discs show the band during a successful tour during an important time for them. They don’t miss a step. Founding member John McEuen is the flame-fingered Eddie Van Halen of the banjo, from the opening ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’ to ‘Randy Lynn Rag.’ Singer-guitarist Jeff Hanna has a good rapport with the audience, judging from his genuine-sounding banter between songs. Their own well-known hits, such as ‘Mr. Bojangles’ and ‘Some of Shelley’s Blues’ (written by Mike Nesmith) are all here, and flawless renditions of standards like ‘Uncle Pen,’ ‘The Battle of New Orleans,’ and Michael Martin Murphey’s ‘Cosmic Cowboy.’ It’s easy to see why the Long Beach, California rootsy country rock band was warmly embraced in Nashville and Texas, not to mention given the blessing of artists like Maybelle Carter, Ricky Skaggs, and Doc Watson.

For Nitty Gritty Dirt Band fans and collectors, especially the ones who likely taped the WLIR show off the radio at the time, this is a valuable collection.

7/10
7/10

About Kimberly Bright 62 Articles
Indiana native, freelance writer specializing in British, Canadian, and American music and cultural history, flyover states, session musicians, overlooked and unsung artists. Author of 'Chris Spedding: Reluctant Guitar Hero.' You can contact her at kimberly.bright@americana-uk.com.

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