Top positive review
35 people found this helpful
10 Years of Dirt + "Mr. Bojangles"
on April 11, 2000
I've been a huge fan of the Dirt Band since I purchased their Uncle Charlie album in 1970--and I've bought every album since. Unfortunately, now that I'm looking to replace my old vinyl with CDs, I find that much of their catalog is out of print. In the case of their Eighties output, however, it's not a major tragedy. Much of what you'd want to hear from those albums is on this disc (and the companion disc, More Great Dirt).
Once you get past the fact that the first ten years of dirt are covered by only two songs (1970's "Mr. Bojangles" and 1975's "Ripplin' Waters"), this collection adequately covers the country radio-friendly tunes the Dirt Band recorded during their peak commercial years. [In fact, why didn't Warner Brothers simply focus on the Eighties? It would have made more sense than trying to promote this as a 20-year retrospective.]
Both "American Dream" and "Make a Little Magic" returned the Dirt Band to the pop charts for the first time in nearly a decade. They also shed any resemblance to being a bluegrass/country-rock band with the 1979 and 1980 albums those hits came from. With their follow-up album, Jealousy, in 1981 they continued to pursue a pop music course. "Fire in the Sky" from that album was about as far as you could stylistcally get from "Mr. Bonjangles." It wasn't until the return of long-time member Jimmy Ibbotson (who left after the classic Dream album) that the Dirt Band hit their stride again.
It was Ibbotson who wrote the joyous "Dance Little Jean," the energetic "High Horse" and the band biography "Partners Brothers & Friends," the latter with Jeff Hanna.
In 1984, Bob Carpenter joined the band on keyboards and vocals. His presence also added another songwriter. It's Carpenter's lovely ballad "Stand a Little Rain," released as a single and recorded specifically for this collection, that closes the set.
Unfortunately, this five-man lineup would record only two albums: Plain Dirt Fashion (1984) and Partners, Brothers and Friends (1985). After that album, founding member John McEuen would leave the band in 1986. [McEuen is a gifted banjo and fiddle player--as well as other stringed instruments--and his solo albums are worth seeking out.]
The Dirt Band would record two more albums in the Eighties: Workin' Band and Hold On. Songs from those albums along with tracks left off this collection can be found on the equally excellent More Great Dirt. These two "best ofs" offer an excellent overview of the Dirt Band's Eighties output. RECOMMENDED