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Live at The Greek Theatre 1982

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Album Review

Phase two of the Doobie Brothers, the soul/R&B band with Michael McDonald's lead vocal as opposed to the boogie rock of the initial Tom Johnston era, closed its run with this "final" show at L.A.'s Greek Theatre. By this time, the lineup was expanded to nine with only Patrick Simmons left from the original five-piece. Not surprisingly, the sound had also altered to favor McDonald's throaty, baritone vocals and smoother, more blue-eyed soul/pop approach. As history would show, this was far from the band's farewell, but even though they have re-formed again to hit the summer shed festival circuit yearly, McDonald has continued his solo career, making this a somewhat accurate title for this particular lineup. In any event, it's a tight, polished, enjoyable night, hampered by the slick qualities that made their albums of the time so popular. Johnston-period members including Tiran Porter, John Hartman, and Johnston himself appear to close the show with rollicking versions of "China Grove" and "Listen to the Music." The latter also kicks off the gig in a far inferior and seemingly rushed version that should probably have been cut. This album is not to be confused with the 1983's Farewell Tour (out of print as of 2011) that captured the same band with different performances and a slightly altered set list. This one also features five "bonus" tracks, although "bonus" to what is unexplained. The juxtaposition of songs from the band's two styles is occasionally jarring, as a driving "Rockin' Down the Highway" segues into McDonald's commercialized soul/jazz "You Belong to Me" early on. And why they didn't save Johnston's signature "Long Train Runnin'" —nearly derailed by the inclusion of an unnecessary percussion section/drum solo — for him to perform when he makes his surprise appearance at the end is also mystifying. Still, this is a professional band going through its paces with precision and a modicum of excitement and energy, although not a lot of surprises. Simmons' is featured playing his "Slot Key Soquel Rag" which is a reminder of the acoustic, rustic style of music that influenced him. It's followed by "Out on the Streets," a lackluster Simmons original that eventually appeared on his only solo album, but drags down this show and should probably have been left off and replaced with one of the Doobies' M.I.A. hits such as "Another Park, Another Sunday" or "Eyes of Silver." [A DVD of the concert available separately, boasts better sound, a few more tunes, and between-song patter, and adds short interviews with the bandmembers. It also shows the somewhat sterile nature of the gig, at least until Johnston appears to bring some much needed oomph. It's not clear why it has taken nearly 30 years for this to appear, but for fans of both eras of the Doobie Brothers, it's a significant historical document that fills a gap in the band's catalog.]


Formed: March, 1970 in San Jose, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As one of the most popular California pop/rock bands of the '70s, the Doobie Brothers evolved from a mellow, post-hippie boogie band to a slick, soul-inflected pop band by the end of the decade. Along the way, the group racked up a string of gold and platinum albums in the U.S., along with a number of radio hits like "Listen to the Music," "Black Water," and "China Grove." The roots of the Doobie Brothers lie in Pud, a short-lived California country-rock band in the vein of Moby Grape featuring...
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Live at The Greek Theatre 1982, The Doobie Brothers
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