After a pair of critically acclaimed, but generally ignored albums on the Southern rock-intensive Capricorn Records label, Dobie Gray switched to the MCA subsidiary Infinity Records. The eponymous Dobie Gray (1979) long-player sadly never reached its full potential or target audience due to poor distribution and associated red tape as Infinity was on a downward spiral and attempting to simply keep themselves and their artists afloat. Gray's extended disco remake of his '60s classic "The "In" Crowd" was probably better left unreleased -- epitomizing everything that was wrong with the dance-inspired musical genre. That said, it was a smash in European discotheques, giving Gray a significant boost in popularity. The remainder of the effort demonstrates Gray's strengths as an emotive vocalist on some of his finest ballads and amorous melodies. The heartfelt reconciliation ode "Stumblin' Back to You" as well as the hopeful, yet moody "Sunny Day to Rain" and the stirring cover of Le Roux's [aka Louisiana's Le Roux] "Bridge of Silence" are among the other highlights. Almost a decade before Heart reworked Robert John "Mutt" Lange's "All I Wanna Do Is Make Love to You" into a sizable hit, Gray cut his own reading with a sturdy mid-tempo and a bit more rural and a bit less rock than the Ann and Nancy Wilson put into their better-known update. "Fool, Fool" again slows down the pace for a laid-back and soulful interpretation of a number that became an audience favorite as Gray continued to sing it in his live shows. Arguably the best performance on Dobie Gray is "We Had It All," which is perfectly suited for his unpretentious and affective delivery. Gray is aptly supported by a simple and refined orchestration that never overpowers the understated eloquence of his leads. After nearly 20 years out of print, a digitally remastered version of Dobie Gray was featured alongside his six additional LPs on Hip-O Select's Complete Dobie Gray (1969-1979). The limited edition four-disc box collects his entire '70s catalog and also includes an extended 12" single mix of "The "In" Crowd."
AllMusic Review by Lindsay Planer