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Takin' It To The Streets

January 31, 2012 | Format: MP3

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Popularity Prime  
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Format: Audio CD
I'm not going to go over the same ground as the other reviewers... Gavin Wilson's notes for this album are pretty accurate so you may want to read this first. I'd just like to take up a couple of point he makes which are not accurate for all you history buffs out there. At the end I give you my opinion of the album if you just want to skip down to that.

QUOTE "McDonald needed a vehicle to establish himself before going on to a solo career"

This statement is misleading in that it suggests that Mike only joined the Doobie Brothers to further his solo career - at the time in '73/'74 Mike McDonald would have needed a crystal ball to have had this in mind. He joined the Doobies because he was asked by Pat Simmons over the telephone and he was not just 'using the band' as a stepping stone to a solo gig. Mike had been gigging around the West Coast for a couple of years - most notably with Steely Dan (which was on/off as anyone who knows Dan will understand - they went through more musicians that I've had hot dinners... approx' 52 on Aja alone!). At the time he had had an abortive solo album released through a producer friend Rick Jarrard and he was living in a garage apartment surviving on oatmeal. He had pretty much given up on the idea of a solo career and was really looking for work as a session musician. Jeff Baxter, another Dan session man recommended him to Pat and that was that.

The whole idea of Mike going solo didn't come until the Doobies fell apart around 79/80 and then it was out of necessity... it was either a solo gig or go look for more session work. Mike's never planned anything in his life.. and he still believes to this day in syncronicity - fate leading him forward.
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Format: Audio CD
I remember the shock that many of us felt when we first heard this album previewed on FM radio back in 1976. It bombed so badly in the UK that the follow-up, LIVIN ON THE FAULT LINE, was never released here on LP. There are few traumas in the history of rock music which have led to a band re-inventing itself so successfully.
The cause was Tom Johnston's departure, a possibility which had been foreseen with the recruitment of third guitarist Jeff Baxter. But Baxter was neither a vocalist nor a volume songwriter. When Johnston finally left, the band was thrown into upheaval. None of them seemed to have a solo career ahead of them, so they had to stick together. But only one track was in the can -- 'Turn It Loose', a leftover from the wonderful STAMPEDE period that hadn't made it onto the album. However much the band's manager might want to thrust Simmons as the band's new leader -- that's why his photo is on the front of this album -- it seems that he needed a co-leader to bring out the best of his glorious writing, singing and guitar playing.
It might have seemed strange to their fans but the Doobies could have continued with much the same sound if they had picked Maria Muldaur, who had sung on a number of their earlier albums, as their new lead singer. Bonnie Raitt would also have enabled them to continue with their blend of West Coast and Southern boogie. Instead they chose someone who had never worked with the Doobies before. But he had a wonderful voice and he had worked on the classic Steely Dan album KATY LIED. It turned out that he also had a gift for composition too, as exemplified on 'Losin' End' and the stand-out track 'It Keeps You Runnin''.
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Format: Audio CD
I am a huge fan of the Doobie Brothers, I like every album they ever made (some more than others, some less), but this is definitely their best one. The first track is pretty good jazz/rock. The next is the classic title track. The third track is the only one I'm not crazy about. All the rest of the tunes have great melodies, great group sound, a variety of moods, yet cohesive as a whole. Turn it Loose and It Keeps You Runnin' (which used to be KRTH's backup song to their ads) are my favorites from side 2 but "It's All Good." Do yourself a favor and buy this CD!
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Format: Audio CD
Lately Mobile Fidelity has been hitting a lot of home runs with their releases and this remaster of "Takin' It To the Streets" is no exception. Sharp, well defined with great dynamic range and a warm analog sound, this dual layer (CD Redbook layer and SACD layer for higher definition playback)remaster proves that Mofi hasn't lost any of their magic. How does this compare to the original CD edition mastered by Lee Herschberg? That one still sounds quite nice but the sound stage, depth, detail and warmth of this version beats it.

From the opening notes of "Wheel of Fortune" to the closing notes of "Carry Me Away" this was very much a transitional album for the band in terms of their sound; Tom Johnston was easing back on his contribution to the band after a major illness and Michael McDonald a session player who had performed with Steely Dan stepped in to fill Johnston's shoes. McDonald's warm, gruff tenor, songwriting chops and keyboard playing moved the band further into a mixture of jazz/rock and blue eyed soul territory particularly with the addition of Jeff Baxter (another Steely Dan alum and session player who had joined with the previous album). Guitarist/vocalist Patrick Simmons stepped up his contribution along with McDonald to make up for the songwriting/singing void left when Johnston stepped back from the forefront in the band.

The title track, "It Keeps You Runnin'", "Rio"(with guest vocalist Maria Muldaur), "Wheel of Fortune" (with Simmons and Johnston trading vocals) all are top notch make this an essential Doobie Brothers album to have. Bassist Tiran Porter steps in with a song written in tribute to Johnston ("To Someone Special")to help pick up the songwriting slack as well.
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