The Doobie Brothers pop-based song craft, trademark vocals and sweet harmonies were a notch above their peers and the laid-back post Woodstock/’Easy Rider’ nuances of the era.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: The Doobie Brothers
ALBUM: The Doobie Brothers
LABEL: Warner Bros
SERIAL: WS 1919
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Tom Johnston – guitar, piano, harp, vocals * Pat Simmons – guitar, vocals * Dave Shogren – bass, organ, vocals * John Hartman – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Nobody * 02 Slippery St. Paul * 03 Greenwood Creek * 04 It Won’t Be Right * 05 Travelin’ Man * 06 Feelin’ Down Farther * 07 The Master * 08 Growin’ A Little Each Day * 09 The Beehive State * 10 Closer Every Day * 11 Chicago
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Embarrassing but I assumed for decades ‘Toulouse Street’ was the first Doobie Brothers album. In my defense I’ve never been more than a casual fan of the Doobies and their music, so this faux pas could be overlooked but still, I should have known. Confession aside, according to those who have been in the know – the 1971 debut was never an easy album to find even at the height of their popularity thirty plus years ago.
You would think Warner Brothers would have cashed-in on this first effort during the band’s 1977-1982 high profile stadia status.. Especially since demos recorded during the same period were sneakily issued by the Pickwick label as ‘Introducing The Doobie Brothers’ in 1980. But the label sat on it for over two decades, not issuing the album again until 1995. Go figure.
The only release to feature bassist Dave Shogren, at this point the band were extremely popular on the Northern California club circuit, especially among bikers including the notoriously nasty Hells Angels. Behind this colourful backdrop the record co-produced by a young and green Ted Templeman is indicative of the period blending the newfound Americana of The Band, the woozy west coast hippie funk of Country Joe & The Fish and the good-time spirit of Grand Funk Railroad.
Admittedly these are outfits I’ve never been particularly fond of but the Doobie Brothers pop-based song craft, trademark vocals and sweet harmonies were a notch above their peers and the laid-back post Woodstock/’Easy Rider’ nuances of the era. Kick-start opener ‘Nobody’ was the record’s single and went nowhere, even when it was re-released in 1974. But it’s classic Doobies and the album from start to finish is a blueprint for their future success pre-Michael McDonald.
The rest of the album is everything you expect with plenty of down by the bayou-thank you Jesus lyricism to be found on songs like ‘Slippery St. Paul’ and ‘The Master’ recalling their instantly memorable single ‘Black Water’ three years in the future. And yet when all is said and done and the acoustic blues of ‘Chicago’ fades in the distance, I find myself longing for the ‘Yacht rock’ McDonald era classics ‘Livin’ On The Fault Line’ and the hit-packed ‘Minute By Minute’ to satisfy my Doobie hunger pains.
‘Toulouse Street’ followed in 1972 and gave the group its first big hits ‘Jesus Is Just Alright’ and the evergreen ‘Listen To The Music’ with both songs dominating the airwaves for years to come. Now well into the twenty-first century the music business has changed dramatically, but the Doobie Brothers have retained a surprising longevity releasing a well-received studio album in 2010 and continue to tour on a catalog of singles that never grow old.