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.
Symphonion Dream was the last album recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band before Jim Ibbotson left and the band began to move away from its traditional jug band/bluegrass roots. The big question is why in 1975, when the rest of the First Division of country-rock practitioners – the Eagles, Poco, Souther-Hillman-Furay et al – had been travelling for some time in the direction of simplified, stadium-friendly AOR, the NGDB went the other way and produced what I think is the best, and surely the quirkiest, psychedelic country album ever.
With such great songs as Fishing in the dark (a number one country hit) and Baby's got a hold on me (from which derives the album title), this album shows the boys in fine form.On this album, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band demonstrate their ability to perform upbeat, fun songs including the two already mentioned as well as Angelyne, Keeping the road hot and Oh what a love, all of which are brilliant….