Takin’ It To The Streets

The Doobie Brothers

Warner Brothers, 1976


REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


Although Stampede had been a good album, the Doobie Brothers was interested in expanding their sound, and so Takin’ It To The Streets marks the first step away from their old sound and toward their eventual classification as a pop-soul band. It’s also considered the final “classic” Doobies album; the last one represented on their seminal Best Of The Doobies collection, it’s the final one that gets regular airplay on classic rock radio. From here, the boys would land on pop radio with songs like “What A Fool Believes” and “Minute By Minute.”

The dichotomy here is compelling, though, showing a depth that builds on the established Doobies sound by adding funk elements, horns, smooth jazz, and the singing of Michael McDonald. This also is where the Doobies started to share DNA with Steely Dan, as both McDonald and guest guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter brought elements of their old band into this one. It’s not unthinkable that songs like “Rio,” “Carry Me Away” and “For Someone Special” could have been on, say, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Katy Lied. Part of the change, of course, is because Tom Johnston was having health issues and had to reduce his involvement in the band, leading to McDonald coming on to help with the tour and then being asked to join them in the studio to record this disc.

For someone raised on “Black Water” and “China Grove,” hearing the jazzy cadences of “Rio,” and the white soul elements of “Wheels Of Fortune” can be a bit jarring at first, but the album flows nicely and retains its own mellow personality. Although the band’s rock side and good-time-boogie personality are what they’re remembered for, many of their best songs are moodier, more acoustic pieces like “Ukiah,” “I Cheat The Hangman,” and “Daughters Of The Sea,” and this album follows more along those lines. The best examples are the title track (a deserved hit) and the clanky “It Keeps You Runnin’,” both featuring solid singing from McDonald.

“Turn Me Loose” is a welcome addition at the end of the album, the song that sounds most like the old Doobies, and it’s a fine rocker but a bit derivative of much of What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits and doesn’t really leave a lasting impression. “Carry Me Away” also is unlike any other Doobies song at the time, though it points the way forward to the rest of the decade more than any other song here…so if you loved “Minute By Minute,” you’ll love this one, too.

But a couple of mediocre songs tucked away at the end does not a bad listening experience make, and the entire 38 minutes are self-assured, confident AOR pop-rock-soul that do not betray the tentative nature of the sessions; the band knew adding McDonald would alter their sound, but they went ahead with it. Aside from the three hit songs (“Wheels,” “It Keeps You Runnin’,” the title track), “8th Avenue Shuffle,” “Rio” (with guest vocals from Maria Muldaur), and “For Someone Special” are as good as most other Doobies album tracks, with all six showing a successful merging of styles.

The band would go on to pursue McDonald’s vision above their old ways, leaving this as the last classic Doobies record and one to check out no matter if you are a longtime or casual fan.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2016 Benjamin Ray and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers, and is used for informational purposes only.