Classic Rock Review

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The Doobie Brothers 1st Album (1971) & Toulouse Street (1972)


If ever there was a band that has proven virtually impossible to place in a specific genre then it has to be The Doobie Brothers who have been termed country, pop, soul, funk and rock over the course of their forty year history. These latest reissues courtesy of Edsel pair two albums apiece across four double CD sets taking in the bands first eight studio releases from the period 1971 – 1978.

The addition of a good selection of bonus cuts and detailed liner notes ensures that this is a project that has been given due care and attention, serving as both a comprehensive introduction for newcomers and offering value for money for long-term admirers.

The bands eponymous debut album (1971) featured the line up of drummer John Hartman, guitarists and vocalists Pat Simmons and Tom Johnston and the soon to be departed bassist Dave Shogren. Having spent some time touring around California the Doobies had developed a following amongst the Hells Angels chapters and the cover image shows them posing in leather-jacketed attire and looking suitably moody. Like so many debuts the music itself evidences a group that was still developing its sound and style and the overall feel is very loose and laid back with Johnston and Simmons trading acoustic licks on the ballads “Travelin’ Man” and “Closer Every Day” .

The album also marked the start of a long and successful partnership with producer Ted Templeman who has been at the helm throughout their career. Creedence-esque chugging rhythms are in abundance with lead track “Nobody”, “Greenwood Creek” and Randy Newman’s “Beehive State” amongst the other highpoints. Unreleased demos and an early version of later hit single “Long Train Running” (entitled “Osborn”) increase the total number of songs to a weighty twenty-one.

Commercial success came the way of the Doobies with Toulouse Street (1972) aided by the Billboard #11 chart single, Johnston’s “Listen to the Music”, that would arguably go on to become their signature song. Expanding to a five-piece Tiran Porter had assumed bass duties and the addition of Michael Hossack began the bands trademark “dual drummers” sound.

Toulouse Street is an altogether much heavier record than its predecessor as they shift through the gears on epic blues rock workout “Disciple” and the urgent “Rockin’ down the Highway”. Marking the differences in approach between himself and Johnston, Simmons two contributions are the reggae flavoured “Mamaloi” and stretched out harmonies of the title track. Elsewhere they diversify even further by adding horns to Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me To Talkin” and flirting with gospel on second single “Jesus Is Just Alright”.

Whilst the debut is certainly appealing in parts Toulouse Street proves to be the more consistent effort ensuring that the band were regarded as one of the most original new artists of the period. This review is just the start of our Doobies reissue coverage and the remaining Edsel releases will be featured here very soon.

March 9, 2013 Posted by | The Doobie Brothers The Doobie Brothers, The Doobie Brothers Toulouse Street | | Leave a comment