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Takin' It to the Streets
The Doobie Brothers

Warner Bros. BS 2899
Released: March 1976
Chart Peak: #8
Weeks Charted: 44
Certified Platinum: 7/27/78

Michael McDonaldThe Doobie Brothers sound has been heavily influenced by the addition of Jeff Baxter and Michael McDonald, two former members of Steely Dan. Between them, Baxter and McDonald contributed two-thirds of Takin' It to the Streets, adding slightly more complicated, Latin-inflected rhythms. They're the reasons why this is, melodically, the Doobies' best record.

Lyrics are another matter: few best-selling, technically immaculate groups are as banal as this one. "Rio," for example, a very catchy, thoughtful bit of music, is anchored by lines like "Workin' for the man every day... Got to get away."

The Doobie Brothers - Takin' It to the Streets
Original album advertising art.
Click image for larger view.
But the music more than compensates. McDonald's "It Keep You Runnin'" is a particularly beautiful tune, with the organ pushing through the choruses. Tom Johnston's "Turn It Loose" is sure-fire reassurance that one of the original Doobies has lost none of his commercial touch. One only hopes that the Doobies soon latch onto a lyricist as eloquent as the Becker/Fagen team, yet suited to their simple concepts.

- Ken Tucker, Rolling Stone, 6/3/76.

Bonus Reviews!

Change of pace for consistently top selling group as it leans much more to the softer side it showed could be so successful with "Black Water." Some of the old Doobie hard rock here, but the majority of the set concentrates on easy harmony vocals, semi-jazzy instrumental backup, strong soul feel in the vocals and a distinct Chicago-type sound in several spots. Well produced and arranged, with good rock guitar solos or jazzy sax solos breaking up the easy backdrop. Latin percussion strings and solo violin also used effectively in spots. Overall, an easier sound than previous LPs. Best cuts: "Wheels Of Fortune," "Takin' It To The Streets," "8th Avenue Shuttle," "It Keeps You Runnin'," "Turn It Loose."

- Billboard, 1976.

You can lead a Doobie to the recording studio, but you can't make him think. C+

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

Jeff "Skunk" Baxter left after Stampede and Michael McDonald -- who also recorded with Steely Dan -- joined the band. Under McDonald's direction, the group departed from their trademark bluesy country-rock on Takin' It to the Streets, taking a laidback pop-soul that touched on jazz and White funk. The result was a commercial and artistic success, providing a blueprint for the band's next two records. * * * *

- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

Takin' It To the Streets is the first and best of the latter-day Doobies, with McDonald bringing his voice to hits like "It Keeps You Running" and the title track, with Johnston still around to add a little rock 'n' roll grit. * * * *

- Gil Asakawa, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.

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