DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The Doobie Brothers – Let The Music Play (2012)

This is one of the pair of DVDs we gave away in last month's drawing.

Published on December 3, 2012

The Doobie Brothers – Let The Music Play (2012)

The Story of the Doobie Brothers
Studio: Eagle Rock Entertainment
Video: 1.78:1 for 16:9 color
Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1; PCM Stereo
Extras: Live Tracks – Rainy Day Crossroad Blues; Without You; Listen to the Music; Black Water; Takin’ It to the Streets; Rockin’ Down the Highway; Neal’s Fandango; Long Train Runnin’; China Grove
Length: 148 minutes
Rating: ****

Inquiring minds want to know: How did the band get the name?  The band members were heavy into smoking pot and didn’t have a name, so someone suggested “The Doobie Brothers” and although no one embraced it initially it soon stuck.  This disc is an excellent documentary on the history of a great rock ‘n’ roll band that is one of those still playing music today.

The viewer is treated to a full time-line of the band starting in the early ‘70s when the members looked like long-haired biker hippies to the present day when they are married with families and kids and look like middle-aged rockers.  Equal time is spent exploring the various decades and incarnations of the band via concert video clips, home videos and most importantly with interviews with members of the band, their manager Bruce Cohn, their often-producer Ted Templeman and music critic and historian Joel Selvin

Early band members Tom Johnston and Patrick Simmons met doing shows in a theater in Northern California.  After jamming off and on they got a gig at Chateau Liberte.  They continued to play in small venues to moderate gigs.  The beginning was hard and slow.  Their first record didn’t make much headway and when they tried to produce their second themselves the record company forced them to switch gears–and lucky for them too.

It was 1972 and the album Toulouse Street was released and everything happened for the band at once.  Templeman as producer along with a second drummer and Tiran Porter on bass brought us greats like “Listen to the Music,” “Rockin’ Down the Highway” and “Jesus Is Just Alright.”  The big sound of multiple guitars and three-part harmony helped to rocket the band up the charts.  The follow-up album Captain and Me helped cement the band’s success with “China Grove” and “Long Train Runnin’.”

A slow start on their fourth release didn’t prevent them from charting their first #1 hit with “Black Water.”  The band transitioned in a year and a half from driving around in a tour bus to taking a commercial airliner to finally leasing their own private jet, the “DoobieLiner” and doing 200 shows a year and touring with Steely Dan.

The release of “Stampede” was the end of the original Doobies.  Tom Johnston, singer and primary songwriter had serious health issues and the future of the band was put in jeopardy.  As luck would have it Michael McDonald came onto the scene and joined the band.  His soulful, powerful voice and keyboard playing eventually led to him becoming the leading force of the band and took them in a new musical direction.  This kept the band alive and strong for the next six years and gave us hits like “Takin’ It to the Street,” “It Keeps You Runnin’,” “Echoes of Love,” “Little Darling,” “What a Fool Believes” and “Minute by Minute” to name just a few.

The shift in sound caused the band to begin to drift apart and led to a final farewell tour in 1982.  Later in the ‘80s the band came together again to do some charity concerts and started to play more and more.  In the late ‘80s they released a couple new records and began touring for years and years.  They didn’t release another record till 2000 and many of the original band members were still going strong.  In 2010 they released another album: World Gone Crazy.

Take a 40-year trip through history and learn more than you ever thought you could about a great rock ‘n’ roll band.

—Brian Bloom

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