The Doobie Brothers Live At Wolf Trap Review

Live. Released 2004.  

BBC Review

All the Doobies' best-known songs feature here, with the band's core sound bolstered...

Simon Morgan 2004

Fans of the San Jose outfit will love this dynamic album recorded in-concert at Virginia's National Park for the Performing Arts in Summer 2004. All the Doobies' best-known songs feature, with the band's core sound bolstered by a full-on brass section and some virtuoso playing. Newcomers to the group, however, may also want to check out these songs' original versions - as rendered here, they sometimes lack the subtle funkiness that marked the Doobie Brothers' best studio work.

Tellingly, for a band nearing its 35th anniversary, 13 of Wolf Trap's 17 tracks were first cut between 1972 and 1975. During these golden years, albums like Toulouse Street and The Captain And Me spawned a series of boogie-oriented hits for the Doobies. With other white artists like David Bowie dabbling in soul and funk, the band's magpie-mix of blues, country, r&b, rock and jazz hit the mark.Chart success and critical acclaim have been sporadic ever since, however.

Credibly, and despite labrynthine departures, arrivals and re-arrivals - including the band's total break up between 1982 and 1989 - three of the classic 1974 line-up appear on Live At Wolf Trap: guitar-vocalists Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston, and drummer Mike Hossack.

Highlights include the turbo-charged "Rockin' Down The Highway", a Deep Purple-coloured "Jesus Is Just Alright", and "Take Me In Your Arms", with its Blues Brothers-style brass and backing vocals. Confined to simple licks on their studio albums, Simmons and Johnston let rip live, their playing evoking everyone from Santana and Hendrix to Jimmy Page and ZZ Top. Hossack and second drummer Keith Knudsen provide a titanic percussive accompaniment.

"Steamer Lane", "South City Midnight Lady" and "Snake Man" provide some Eagles-esque country contrast, before it's back to beefed-up boogaloos. Extended, crowd-pleasing versions of "Black Water", "Long Train Runnin'', "China Grove" and "Listen To The Music" sign the album off. All are executed with the same precision that electrifies Wolf Trap throughout. Named after a certain drug The Doobie Brothers may be; narcotic this set is anything but.

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