The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band: John McEuen (vocals, guitar, steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle); Jeff Hanna (vocals, guitar, steel guitar); Jimmie Fadden (vocals, guitar, harmonica, accordion, drums); Jim Ibbotson (vocals, accordion, piano, bass, drums).
Additional personnel: Doug Jernigan (dobro); Vassar Clements (fiddle); Les Thompson (mandolin, bass); Jerry Mills (mandolin); Plas Johnson (saxophone).
Recorded at Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas on March 13, 1972; Cowtown, Kansas City, Missouri on June 17 & 18, 1973; Woodland Sound Studios, Nashville, Tennessee on January 14, 22 & 23, 1974. Includes liner notes by Rich Kienzle.
Adapter: Marcelle Clements.
Personnel: Jeff Hanna (vocals, guitar, slide guitar, steel guitar, drums, washboard, background vocals); John McEuen (vocals, guitar, steel guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, accordion); Les Thompson (vocals, guitar, mandolin, background vocals); Jimmie Fadden (vocals, guitar, harmonica, drums, background vocals); Jimmy Ibbotson (vocals, guitar, accordion, piano, keyboards, drums, background vocals); Maurice Manceau (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Doug Journigon, Dave Jernigan (dobro); Jerry Mills (mandolin); Vassar Clements (violin, fiddle); Byron Berline (violin); Plas Johnson (saxophone); Russ Kunkel (drums).
Audio Remixer: Michael Denecke.
Liner Note Author: Rich Kienzle.
Recording information: Cowtown Ballroom, Kansas City, MO (03/13/1972-01/14/1974); Cowtown, Kansas City, MS (03/13/1972-01/14/1974); Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS (03/13/1972-01/14/1974); Woodland Sound Studios, Nashville, TN (03/13/1972-01/14/1974); Woodland Studios, Nashville, TN (03/13/1972-01/14/1974).
Photographers: David Bowie; Walter McEuen; Bill Higgins; William R. Eastabrook; William McEuen; Alice McEuen.
Unknown Contributor Role: Michel Rubini.
Arrangers: Marcelle Clements; Jeff Hanna.
In many ways, the mixed collection of live and studio recordings on Stars & Stripes Forever accomplished for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and rock music what Sweetheart of the Rodeo failed to do for or with the Byrds, showing the rock band plunging deeply into country music. Two years in the making, it incorporated new studio cuts and live tracks recorded at five concerts over a two-year period, as well as interview material with guest fiddle player Vassar Clements. The mix works better than just about any genuine country (as opposed to country-rock) effort ever done by a rock band, mostly because the band was so careful in their recording and editing, and they gave themselves time to get this stuff just the way they wanted it. Beyond the excellent concert renditions of "Mr. Bojangles" or "The Battle of New Orleans" (which became a single in the wake of this album), and covers of Hank Williams songs and numerous traditional tunes, listeners found they'd walked in on something very deep and profound, tapping into a special creative process. Whatever the reason, this album gave the public more than its money's worth and was a success, charting higher than any other record the group ever released. It still packs lots of power. ~ Bruce Eder