With an impressive string of Top Ten hits from the early to mid-'70s, the Tom Johnston-era Doobie Brothers worked a good-natured, if vapid, country boogie groove to popular advantage over the course of four albums, before the group evolved into keyboardist/vocalist Michael McDonald's more urbane, occasionally brilliant, white-soul pop unit. On Sibling Rivalry, the first release since the tepid reception afforded 1990's Brotherhood, founding members Johnston, Patrick Simmons, and Keith Knudsen do a lushly produced retread of the denim-friendly, early-'70s SoCal of "The Captain and Me" and "Toulouse Street." There is plenty of up-with-life lyrics, spacey sound effects, and some truly lovely harmonizing on the lead single "People Gotta Love Again" and "Leave My Heartache Behind." The more relaxed "Jericho" takes a page from Lowell George's book of plaintive, southwestern funk, while "Don't be Afraid" was so tailor-made for McDonald's incomparable, faux-tortured soprano that to listen to Simmon's muted vocals pick through it is like watching a man struggle with an oversized coat. It's all been done before, of course, but the whole thing is so lovingly crafted and gee-whiz positive that you can't help coming away from a couple of listens snapping your fingers.
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AllMusic Review by Andrew Vance