The Doobies team up with the Memphis Horns for an even more Southern-flavored album than usual, although also a more uneven one. By this time, Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, and company had pretty well inherited the mantle and the core (and then some) of the audience left behind by Creedence Clearwater Revival and John Fogerty, with Johnston songs like "Pursuit on 53rd Street," "Down in the Track," and "Road Angel" recalling pieces like "Travelin' Band," while Simmons' "Black Water" (their first number one hit) evoked the softer side of the "swamp rock" popularized by CCR. Actually, in some respects, given the range of instruments employed here, including an autoharp (courtesy of Arlo Guthrie) and viola, the songs on the original LP's first side suffer somewhat from a sameness that makes What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits a little less interesting than the albums that preceded it. The original side two had a lot more variety, which is as good as any full album the band ever recorded: Simmons' "Tell Me What You Want (And I'll Give You What You Need)" and Johnston's "Another Park, Another Sunday," which both outdo the Eagles and Poco at their respective country-rock games (and keep a certain soulful edge, too), Simmons' lyrical, ethereal, slightly spacy "Daughters of the Sea," and the very spacy, shimmering instrumental "Flying Cloud" (written by bassist Tiran Porter). In all, despite the weakness of its original first side, it's got a lot more to offer than the single hit, and has at least six numbers (out of 12) that rate with the better album tracks the group has ever done.
AllMusic Review by Bruce Eder