Doobie Brothers – World Gone Crazy (Eagle/Shock) CD REVIEW

Even in their heyday, the improbably-named Doobie Brothers were never hip, and even hardcore music fans would mostly be hard-pressed to remember much about them except for the classic ‘70s AOR hits that still punctuate oldies radio. You don’t hear ‘Jesus Is Just Alright’ much these days, but ‘Listen To The Music’ still lights up the airwaves with its trademark tight arrangements, session-muso groove, and layered vocals.

While ‘the Doobies’ weren’t in the same league as Steely Dan, their music at its best did share a penchant for smooth grooves and carefully nurtured arrangements.

The question is obvious, though: does anybody need, or even require, a new Doobie Brothers album in 2011? Its 10 years since their previous studio album, and this reviewer has no memory of that one, whatsoever. This time, the current line-up has opted for revisionism: they reupholster a track from their 1971 debut (‘Nobody’) and hire their original producer, Ted Templeman.

The result is hardly stellar, but it’s hardly embarrassing, either. The songs are forgettable, but Templeton makes sure that the group plays up to its strengths, and World Gone Crazy is exactly what one would expect: a bunch of wizened, road-weary old rock’n’rollers attempting to recapture their original sound (and occasionally succeeding), and dosing up on nostalgia for the good old days.

Former vocalist Michael McDonald, and country superstar Willie Nelson, both drop in for some guest howling. It doesn’t make a heck of a lot of difference.

The sound is detailed and won’t disappoint an avid hi-fi enthusiast, but the lead vocals sound compressed – possibly to boost their impact – which leaves a slightly harsh aftertaste. GARY STEEL

Sound = 3/5

Music = 2.5/5

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