The Doobie Brothers

Minute by Minute

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With Tom Johnston gone from the lineup because of health problems, this is where the "new" Doobie Brothers really make their debut, with a richly soulful sound throughout and emphasis on horns and Michael McDonald's piano more than on Patrick Simmons' or Jeff Baxter's guitars. Not that they were absent entirely, or weren't sometimes right up front in the mix, as the rocking, slashing "Don't Stop to Watch the Wheels" and the bluegrass-influenced "Steamer Lane Breakdown" demonstrate. But given the keyboards, the funky rhythms, and McDonald's soaring tenor (showcased best on "What a Fool Believes"), it's almost difficult to believe that this is the hippie bar band that came out of California in 1970. There's less virtuosity here than on the group's first half-dozen albums, but overall a more commercial sound steeped in white funk. It's still all pretty compelling even if its appeal couldn't be more different from the group's earlier work (i.e., The Captain and Me, etc.). The public loved it, buying something like three million copies, and the recording establishment gave Minute by Minute four Grammy Awards, propelling the group to its biggest success ever.

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