The interesting thing about this new release from the Doobie Brothers…almost 20 years after it was recorded – is how mainstream the band went after delivering the music co-founder Tom Johnston created with the group back in the day…their first show in Boston in the early early 1970s…opening for Marc Bolan & T Rex (Bolan’s first show in America, by the way) was amazing. To the chagrin of 680 AM, the former Top 40 powerhouse WRKO they opened the show with their current hit, “Listen To The Music”, but were an interesting match with Bolan, who later went on to open for Three Dog Night at the Boston Garden. Good on paper, but when Marc didn’t have the hits in the U.S.A. that he had in Great Britain, well…it was something more for the connoisseurs than for the mainstream.
This critic caught the second Doobie Brothers Boston show, on a bill with Jo Jo Gunne and a headliner that escapes me…Joe Cocker or someone…but, again, the Doobie Brothers delivered a good time rock and roll show. What’s unusual(and Wikipedia has it covered rather nicely) is that the group didn’t split up over differences but kept morphing into some kind of hit machine that veered off musical course but kept gaining in popularity. Urban legend has it that Boston’s Willie “Loco” Alexander was considered for voice and piano in the group, though Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (another Boston guy) brought in Michael McDonald from Steely Dan. And why this long essay before getting into the meat of this album? Well, that’s the point…Live At The Greek Theater is a real anomaly…a snapshot of a very mainstream band at the height of being mainstream. So why am I playing it so much in my car?
It’s the songs! A captivating bunch of songs despite the fact that McDonald’s voice can drive the non-recruits batty. He’s got that swallow-your-tongue-while-you-sing style that seems to be good for a blend of jazz and adult contemporary…the reasons escape me but they’ve sold tens of millions of records so…
Would I rather hear Carly Simon sing “You Belong To Me”, sure! But the version here is very good and the band is a machine that chugs along with little personality but lots of familiar melodies.
Live at the Greek won’t replace their Greatest Hits in your collection, but for those of us who like different perspectives on familiar material, and for those of us who appreciate rock history, this is actually a very interesting and…yes…very listenable…picture of the Doobie Brothers back when they ruled the world. Ok, a good friend made me turn off the disc when McDonald’s voice kicked in…and it was easy to oblige him…but as stated, the Doobie Brothers have their enormous fan base and this look at their work at a specific point in time – 1982 – is valid.
New York, NY (June 8, 2011)—On June 28, The Doobie Brothers Live At The Greek Theatre 1982 will be released on CD and DVD through Eagle Rock Entertainment. [Pre-book order date June 3, MSRP $14.98 for DVD, $13.98 for CD].
The rafters of Berkeley, California’s famed Greek Theater shook with rock’n’roll fervor as the final date of the final tour of hometown heroes The Doobie Brothers brought many in the crowd that night to tears. Billed as their “Farewell Tour,” the band, guitarist/vocalist Pat Simmons, keyboardist/vocalist Michael McDonald, drummer Keith Knudson, guitarist/violinist/harmonica player John McFee, saxophonist/keyboardist/flautist Cornelius Bumpus, drummer/percussionist Chet McCracken, bassist Willie Weeks, and conga player Bob LaKind, pulled out all the stops on a set that revisited their every era.
This incredible night included the surprise return of band co-founder Tom Johnston for the final two numbers. On their biggest hit, “Listen To The Music,” original member John Hartman also joined the band as did former members Tiran Porter and Michael Hossack. It would prove to be the last onstage Doobie Brothers music for five years.
The two-hour 21-track DVD includes five bonus songs cut from the original film of the event: “Little Darlin’ (I Need You),” “One Step Closer,” “Dependin’ On You,” “Real Love” and “”No Stoppin’ Us Now” as well as interviews with the band and its manager.
Since their self-titled debut in 1971, The Doobie Brothers have released thirteen studio albums, as well as several live albums and “Best Of” compilations. Live At The Greek Theatre 1982 is a welcome addition to their stunning musical repertoire, that captures an unforgettable celebration of their career.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He was a film critic for Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com and produces and hosts Visual Radio. Visual Radio is a fifteen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed John Lennon’s Uncle Charlie, Margaret Cho, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere, Marty Balin, Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.