Sunday, 16 October 2011

"The Captain And Me/What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits" by THE DOOBIE BROTHERS (2011 Edsel 2CD Reissue and Remaster with Bonus Tracks) - A Review by Mark Barry...

"…Tell Me What You Want And I'll Give You What A Need…"

Two absolute Seventies Rock nuggets on offer here for the Tom Johnston era of THE DOOBIE BROTHERS – both albums sounding spiffing and raring to go. Here come the Abraham Lincoln hats, half-cut bridges and teams of wild horses…

UK released 31 August 2011 as a 2CD set (6 September 2011 in the USA) – "The Captain And Me/What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits" by THE DOOBIE BROTHERS on Edsel EDSD 2105 (Barcode 740155210533) offers two LPs onto 2CDs with Bonus Tracks and breaks down as follows...

Disc 1 (66:24 minutes):
1. Natural Thing
2. Long Train Runnin’
3. China Grove
4. Dark-Eyed Cajun Woman
5. Clear As The Driven Snow
6. Without You [Side 2]
7. South City Midnight Lady
8. Evil Woman
9. Busted Down Around O’Connelly Corners
10. Ukiah
11. The Captain And Me
Tracks 1 to 11 are their 3rd studio album "The Captain And Me" - released March 1973 on Warner Brothers K 46217 in the UK and Warner Brothers BS 2694 in the USA (reached number 7 on the US charts)

Tracks 12 to 14 are 3 remixes of "Long Train Runnin'" which was reissued November 1993 on a 12" single (W0217T) and CD single (W0217CD) in the UK to promote the Warners "Long Train Runnin' - Very Best Of" compilation of May 1993. It reached Number 7 on the UK singles chart. The three remixes are (Sure Is Pure Mix), (Full Guitar Mix) and (Done On A Shoestring Mix).

Disc 2 (44:45 minutes):
1. Song To See You Through
2. Spirit
3. Pursuit on 53rd St.
4. Black water
5. Eyes Of Silver
6. Road Angel
7. You Just Can’t Stop It [Side 2]
8. Tell Me What You Want (And I’ll Give You What You Need)
9. Down In The Track
10. Another Park, Another Sunday
11. Daughters Of The Sea
12. Flying Cloud
Tracks 1 to 12 are their 4th studio album "What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits" - released March 1974 on Warner Brothers K 56026 in the UK and Warner Brothers BS 2750 in the USA  (reached number 4 on the US charts)

The booklet is a great deal more substantial than what's gone before. The 24-pages feature original album artwork (including the inner gatefold sleeve of "Captain" and the poster that accompanied "Vices"), the lyrics (a first for both LPs), musician credits and an informative 6-page history by ALAN ROBINSON on both albums and their impact. It's superbly done. A small mistake is that "Captain" was originally on a 'Tan' Warner Brothers label in both countries - they've pictured the 'Burbank' label which is a mid-Seventies pressing ("Vices" was on Burbank originally). But the really big news is the fabulous new SOUND...

I've had all of the 2006 Japanese Remasters (in 5" card repro sleeves) to have the music - but here the remaster by PHIL KINRADE at ALCHEMY in London is stunning and far better. The clarity is amazing. It helps of course that the original production on each album by Ted Templeman was so razor sharp in the first place (he's long been associated with the band and more famously with Van Halen).

Bubbling under with "The Doobie Brothers" (1971) and "Toulouse Street" (1972) - the stunning "Captain And Me" changed everything for them - and is probably their most beloved album (outside of "Minute By Minute" from 1978) in their entire catalogue. It's one of those Seventies albums where it's 'all' good. Staples like "China Grove", "Long Train Runnin'", the lovely "South City Midnight Lady" and the riffage of "Without You" still raise a tear in the eye of any Doobie fan. But then there are the unsung gems - the almost Montrose rock of "Evil Woman", the chipper "Ukiah" and the brilliantly constructed Patrick Simmons masterpiece "Clear As The Driven Snow" that finishes Side 1 - fantastic stuff. The sound quality here is truly gorgeous too - the 48-second acoustic instrumental of "Busted Down Around O'Connelly Corners" on Side 2 will rattle around your speakers in an impressively clear audiophile manner.

After the sheer brilliance and song-assault of "Captain" - I recall that some perceived "Vices" as something of a disappointment. Personally I loved it to bits at the time - and more importantly, it absolutely deserves reappraisal now as one of the Doobie greats. A far funkier element crept into their songs - so very Little Feat in ways. To this day I play "You Just Can't Stop It" all the time. And you can hear why "Black Water" was a Number 1 single in the USA. "Daughters Of The Sea" is a cracker too as is the acoustic cleverness of "Spirit". "Another Park, Another Sunday" and "Tell Me What You Want" (lyrics above) are as lovely as anything they ever produced. Mightily impressive stuff really...and all of it sounding just spiffing. 

So there you have it. Doobie Brothers fans have waited decades to see their band's back catalogue on Warner Brothers be given the right reissue treatment - and England's Edsel label (who have struck a licensing deal with WEA) has done them proud.

To sum up - great music, superb remaster, really good presentation and a dirt-cheap price. Buy the lot in confidence.

PS: there are 4 releases in this series to date (all with bonus tracks):
1. The Doobie Brothers (1971) / Toulouse Street (1972) on Edsel EDSD 2104
2. The Captain And Me (1973) / What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits (1974) on Edsel EDSD 2105
3. Stampede (1975) / Takin' It To The Streets (1976) on Edsel EDSD 2106
4. Livin' On The Fault Line (1977) / Minute By Minute (1978) on Edsel EDSD 2107

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