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Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” Remastered for 40th Anniversary

Seminal 1972 Americana Album’s First-Ever Vinyl Reissue

Pictured at Bernie Grundman Mastering are (L-R) Bernie Grundman, keyboardist Bob Carpenter, mastering engineer Chris Bellman, and John McEuen. Photo by David Goggin.

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s seminal 1972 Americana album, “Will the Circle be Unbroken,” has been remastered from the original analog tapes for a deluxe 40th Anniversary 3LP vinyl and high definition digital HDtracks edition, released March 12 by Capitol Nashville.

Overseen by the band and including a new liner notes essay by the Dirt Band’s John McEuen, the commemorative edition features the original, Platinum-certified triple album on 180-gram vinyl, presented in faithfully restored gatefold packaging with an exclusive poster. The new release, remastered by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering, marks the first-ever vinyl and high definition digital audio reissue of one of Americana’s most influential recordings.

Met by international critical acclaim as a modern classic upon its release, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s “Will the Circle be Unbroken” features a who’s-who of bluegrass, folk, and blues luminaries as primary and guest artists, including Mother Maybelle Carter, Roy Acuff, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Merle Travis, Jimmy Martin, and others, as well as compositions by Acuff, Scruggs, Travis, Martin, Hank Williams, and Joni Mitchell, among others. The album crossed genre lines, uniting fans of country and rock music in widespread appreciation, peaking at #4 on Billboard’s Country chart and at #68 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

“We were all students of records coming from the bluegrass/folk/blues world, even prior to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s birth in 1966,” writes McEuen in his essay for the album’s 40th Anniversary Edition. “This mysterious mix of music, culture and generations is what made ‘The Circle’ a possibility.”

Recorded live over six consecutive days at Woodland Sound Studios in Nashville, “Will the Circle be Unbroken” is a timeless feat of studio collaboration, bringing together accomplished country songwriters and musicians from two generations for a cohesive album that is both steeped in tradition and pioneering in its form, ushering in the new Americana style and remaining a font of musical influence to this day. In 2005, the album was selected for the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress, joining an esteemed group of essential American recordings which “are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States.”

“We’re so grateful for the time we got to spend in the recording studio in Nashville making music with our heroes in 1971. 40 years later it stands among the proudest moments we’ve ever had as a band,” says the Dirt Band’s Jeff Hanna.

“We recorded live to two-track,” explains McEuen, “There could be no mixing or overdubs. ‘Get it right the first time, an’ t’hell with the rest of them’ was Roy Acuff’s policy in the studio. With ‘Will the Circle be Unbroken’, we are told we all got it right.”

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