Soundstage performance showcases the hard-working, ever-changing Doobies at their sweatiest
While promoting their new album Livin’ On The Fault Line, the Doobie Brothers – with Michael McDonald entering the fold after successfully collaborating with Steely Dan on Katy Lied – made their way to the PBS concert series Soundstage for a live concert. The Doobies would also appear on a two-part episode of What’s Happening! to rev up the noise, but watching the California band in action was what fans really wanted.
With each album release, band members were known for coming and going out of the band. But Michael McDonald’s entry on the 1976 album Takin’ It To The Streets sparked a whole new shift for the group. The arrangements got a little more soulful, the guitar solos got a little more sophisticated and ambitious and the pop gloss provided by Ted Templeman became heavily apparent. “Takin’ It To The Streets” was a solidified hit, peaking at No. 13 pop. The single helped push the influence of Michael McDonald’s work into the pop market as Robbie Dupree, Kenny Loggins and Steely Dan reduplicate the sound the Doobies were just starting to master.
On this 1977 live clip of “Takin’ It To The Streets,” Michael McDonald uses gospel melismas and Marvin Gaye souling to punctuate the song’s emotions on the crowd. The players are also in exqusite form: Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (another Steely Dan alum) invents a guitar solo for the gods; Keith Knudsen drives the rhythms into orbit; Tiran Porter nails the doobie bass lines; Pat Simmons is all revved up on the guitar and even attacks a neighboring tambourine. As the song fades into a ragtime-esque piano epilogue, the Doobies prove they are not just a band that plays. They are a band that works.
J MATTHEW COBB