Toulouse Street was the album by which most of their fans began discovering the Doobie Brothers, and it has retained a lot of its freshness over the decades. Producer Ted Templeman was attuned to the slightly heavier and more Southern style the band wanted to work toward on this, their second album, and the results were not only profitable -- including a platinum record award -- but artistically impeccable. Toulouse Street is actually pretty close in style and sound at various points to what the Eagles were doing during the same period, except that the Doobies threw jazz and R&B into the mix, as well as country, folk, and bluegrass elements, and (surprise!) ended up just about as ubiquitous as the Eagles in peoples' record collections, especially in the wake of the singles "Listen to the Music" and "Jesus Is Just Alright." But those two singles represented only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what this group had to offer, as purchasers of the album discovered even on the singles -- both songs appear here in distinctly longer versions, with more exposition and development, and in keeping with the ambitions that album cuts (even of popular numbers) were supposed to display in those days. Actually, "Listen to the Music" (written by Tom Johnston) offers subtle use of phasing and other studio tricks that make its seemingly earthy, laid-back approach some of the most complex and contrived of the period. Johnston's "Rockin' Down the Highway" shows the band working at a higher wattage and moving into Creedence Clearwater Revival territory, while "Mamaloi" was Patrick Simmons' laid-back Caribbean idyll, and the title tune (also by Simmons) is a hauntingly beautiful ballad. The band then switches gears into swamp rock for "Cotton Mouth" and takes a left turn into the Mississippi Delta for a version of Sonny Boy Williamson II's "Don't Start Me Talkin'" before shifting into a gospel mode with "Jesus Is Just Alright." Johnston's nearly seven-minute "Disciple" was the sort of soaring, bluesy hard rock workout that led to the group's comparison to the Allman Brothers Band, though their interlocking vocals were nearly as prominent as their crunching, surging double lead guitars and paired drummers. And it all still sounds astonishingly bracing decades later; it's still a keeper, and one of the most inviting and alluring albums of its era.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder