Symphonion Dream

by: The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's first pure studio recording since Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Dream is another very different earful sort of psychedelic country/bluegrass. The band is joined by Linda Ronstadt, Leon Russell, and actor Gary Busey (as "Teddy Jack Eddy," and on drums). The sound is more varied than on previous albums, with a harder electric country feel on "Bayou Jubilee," which segues directly into the bluegrass instrumental "Sally Was a Goodun." Ronstadt does a great job singing "Hey Good Lookin'," but mostly it's the Dirt Band singing, including a superb rendition of "(All I Have to Do Is) Dream." The group had previously released a fun live rendition of Jimmie Driftwood's "The Battle of New Orleans," and they cover it here in a somewhat funkier studio version. John McEuen also offers a taste of some of the sounds he'd later explore more fully on his solo releases with "Classical Banjo I/Malaguena/Classical Banjo II." They offer a non-country instrumental, "Sleeping on the Beach," which could have come from a '50s mood instrumental album -- of course, they follow it up with William McEuen's carnival music-inspired "Santa Monica Pier," which segues into the gorgeous lost single "Ripplin' Waters," by Jim Ibbotson, one of two hits that should have been off this album (the other is Ken Edwards' "Mother of Love"). The disc ends with William McEuen's wind harp instrumental and a music-box piece called "Symphonion Montage." ~ Bruce Eder

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