For Most of the Eighties (and the Nineties, too, for that matter), the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band decided they were not a jug band/roots rock/bluegrass/country-rock band. Instead, they were a country band. And by and large, country music was all the better for it. Granted, the NGDB's albums beginning with American Dream in 1979 would be of mixed quality (even though I dutifully bought them all).
So what you get here on Vol. II are the highlights of those albums. Gems like Bruce Springsteen's "Cadillac Ranch," the joyous "Fishin' in the Dark," the rousing "Baby's Got a Hold on Me" and the melancholy "Face on the Cutting Room Floor." Other highlights are original songs like Jimmy Ibbotson and Jeff Hanna's "I've Been Lookin'," Ibbotson's "Oh What a Love" and Jimmie Fadden's "Workin' Man (Nowhere to Go)." The songs feature impeccable playing, tight harmonies and just enough mandolin, steel guitar and banjo to lend an authenticity lacking in much of Nashville's cookie-cutter approach to country music.
If there's any criticism of this disc, it's that it's too short. It's like eating a bag of chips. Each one is so good, you're disappointed when you get to the end. In the CD Age there's no excuse for a 10-track, 34-minute CD, especially when you're talking about a disc that purports to be "The Best of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band." RECOMMENDED