Monday, 31 December 2018

The Doobie Brothers - Minute By Minute (1978)


  

Released December 1978

This was The Doobie Brothers' biggest-selling album and nothing like their first five albums of riffy, bar-room road trip rock. Doobie Brothers "phase two" (post 1975) was a radio-friendly, laid-back, West Coast, harmonious AOR group. Not that they weren't eminently listenable. It was now a commercial, white funk/soul sound and the public lapped it up. This album sold over three million copies. It was also a million miles away from the punk/new wave that was all the rage in 1978, particularly in the UK. I was nineteen in 1978 and I wouldn't have listened to this if you paid me, although had liked the group's mid seventies material. Time has mellowed me though.

TRACK LISTING

1. Here To Love You
2. What A Fool Believes
3. Minute By Minute
4. Dependin' On You
5. Don't Stop To Watch The Wheels
6. Open Your Eyes
7. Sweet Feelin'
8. Steamer Line Breakdown
9. You Never Change
10. How Do The Fools Survive?

"Here To Love You" is a smooth, polished soul number with some infectious piano and Michael McDonald's unique, smoky voice soaring above the excellent backing. "What A Fool Believes" is now an iconic song, known by many. It is catchy, soulful, gently and melodically rocking. It was a huge hit on mainstream radio and it is clear why on one listen. "Minute By Minute" is a classic of easy listening AOR soul. "Dependin' On You" is full of sweet harmonies, infectious, tuneful rhythms driven by McDonald's piano, the horns and some sublime percussion. There is even a Santana-style guitar solo on here too.

"Don't Stop To Watch The Wheels" is a nod back to their previous, more rocking incarnation, full of bluesy guitar and a solid rock beat. This is a song that will have pleased the older fans and probably would be skipped over by the new ones. "Open Your Eyes" is an infectious, piano-driven soul mid-tempo number with hints of Hall & Oates about it, for me. "Sweet Feelin'" is gently laid-back and pleasant, although it ends a bit abruptly. The band rediscover their Americana roots on the finger-picking country instrumental of "Steamer Line Breakdown", which again reminds one of those early albums.

"You Never Change" slows the tempo again, with some delicious percussion and some hot summer's day vocals that sound almost country-rock-ish, like America, or CSNY. "How Do The Fools Survive?" ends the album with some polished soul funk with a great bass line and impressive horns, once more. It gets into a groove and just sweeps you along. This is a highly recommended album of its type. Laid-back jazzy white soul/funk didn't get much better.

B-

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