The Doobie Brothers

The Doobie Brothers

Warner Brothers Records, 1971

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


If you mention the Doobie Brothers to most people, their minds will immediately race to a series of hits: "What A Fool Believes," "China Grove," "Takin' It To The Streets," "Listen To The Music." You get the picture.

So The Doobie Brothers, the 1971 debut effort from Patrick Simmons and crew, might come as a shock to some people -- after all, it is undoubtedly the least-known album from the Doobies in their pre-1980 career. It's also not the easiest to find -- at least it wasn't when I first bought my vinyl copy some years ago from my local used record store.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The reason that this first album isn't well-known isn't because the performances are bad. Maybe the problem is that the overall feel is far too laid-back. When the Doobies were at their peak, there was a bit of an edge to their music, most notably in the performances. On this first outing, it almost feels like a warm summer night -- and that doesn't work to a fledgling band's benefit.

Granted, had rock radio picked up on a song from this disc and bludgeoned us to death with it for decades, we'd probably all consider it to be manna from heaven. And arguments could easily be made for songs like "Nobody" and "Travelin' Man" in an effort to help boost their status in the collection of well-known songs by the Doobies.

But for the most part, the band -- Simmons, Tom Johnston, Dave Shogren and John Hartman -- is captured as they continue to work on just what their musical voice was going to be. On many songs, such as "Greenwood Creek" and "Closer Every Day," you can hear the foundation being laid for their future success. But there is one major thing lacking from these performances -- namely, a sense of urgency. It was almost as if it was enough for the band to have gotten a chance to record an album, and they were going to do it in their own style, popularity be damned.

I guess we should be thankful that the Doobies were able to follow their hearts in that regard, but it doesn't make the disc any easier to get through. Again, it's not that it's bad, it's just that the gentle acoustic-driven rhythms tend to fade into one another, making The Doobie Brothers seem like one long adult-contemporary song. It's hard to keep focused on the music when it mish-mashes like that, and that is the fatal flaw in this disc.

The Doobie Brothers would shortly hit the "Pick Six" in terms of popularity, and their hits prove they were worth the accolades heaped upon them. But The Doobie Brothers showcases a band who wasn't quite there yet.

Rating: C

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© 2004 Christopher Thelen 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 Records, and is used for informational purposes only.