UK released Monday 26 September 2011 as a 2CD set (4 Oct 2011 in the USA) - Edsel EDSD 2106 breaks down as follows...
Disc 1 (57:48 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 11 are their 5th studio album "Stampede" - released May 1975 on Warner Brothers K 56094 in the UK - Warner Brothers BS 2835 in the USA
Tracks 12 to 16 are bonus tracks - all are taken from the 4CD Box Set "Long Train Runnin': 1970-2000" released on Rhino in September 1999 in the USA. All were new to CD at the time with 12 being the 'Single Remix' of "Sweet Maxine" and 13 to 16 being Previously Unreleased album 'Outtakes'
Disc 2 (45:40 minutes):
Tracks 1 to 9 are their 6th studio album "Takin' It To The Streets" - released March 1976 on Warner Brothers K 56196 in the UK - Warner Brothers BS 2899 in the USA
Tracks 10 and 11 are bonus tracks - both as per 12 to 16 on Disc 1
The 24-page booklet is far more substantial than I had expected - original album artwork including inner gatefolds is shown for both LPs, the lyrics, musician credits, UK LP labels pictured and an informative history on each album by ALAN ROBINSON. The booklet is superbly done. But the big news is the fabulous new SOUND...
I've had all 10 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 by Ted Templeman was so razor sharp (he's long been associated with the band and more famously with Van Halen).
Some tracks are shockingly better - that great guitar solo in "Neal's Fandango" rocks as does the cover of the Holland-Dozier-Holland Motown classic "Take Me In Your Arms..." One of my favourite 'in-between-tracks' instrumentals (in the entire Doobies catalogue) is "Slat Key Soquel Rag" which only runs to 1:52 minutes. Here it's absolutely transformed - beautifully produced in the first place, it now has gorgeous clarity - fans will flip for this. Another winner (albeit not quite as successful as the liner notes claim) is the 6:36 minutes of "I Cheat The Hangman" which sounds like The Eagles most uncharacteristic song "Journey Of The Sorcerer" which ends Side 2 of the "One Of These Nights" album (also from 1975). The Eagles stretched out instrumentally and with spectacular results - here The Doobies try the same - about 4 minutes into it - the song goes off into swirling vocals, Nick DeCaro arranged strings and Carl Himmie on trumpet fills. It sounds amazing.
"Music Man" features Soul Legend CURTIS MAYFIELD who contributes Strings and Horns that virtually 'make' the uptempo song. Another fan favourite is Tom Johnston's acoustic "Rainy Day Crossroad Blues" - it now sounds fabulous with slide nylon and steel guitar strings rattling around your music room. Although I always found both the album finishers "I Been Workin' On You" and "Double Dealin' Four Flusher" fairly plodding Seventies Rock - if they have admirers out there - then their gonna love the boogie clarity here.
The introduction of Michael McDonald to the band changed everything - and very much for the better in my opinion. Their 1976 transition album is a soulful rock record. "Losin' End" is fabulous and "Wheels Of Fortune" still retains that Tom Johnston's magic, but my heart lies with an obscurity. I've waited 30 years to hear "For Someone Special" in really great sound - and at last it's here. Because it's a Tiran Porter song (the Bass player) and doesn't feature either Johnston or McDonald on Lead Vocals (Porter handles it himself) - it sort of sounds like a slinky Steely Dan song you've missed. Every instrument is clearer - the Bass and Drums - and suddenly there's the lovely lead of Wayne Jackson from The Memphis Horns. I love it. Every time I feature this track on some 70's Fest CD in the shop shuffle - it brings customers to the counter asking after it.
Featuring Michael McDonald's heartfelt lyrics and gorgeous melody, "Takin' It To The Streets" is beautifully clear - and to this day sends chills up my arms (lyrics above). The funky and fun "8th Avenue Shuffle" sounds amazing too. And then you're hit with two knockouts - demos with just old blue eyes and a piano. The "Takin' It To The Streets" demo is mind-blowing stuff; he has the opening lyrics and just ad-libs the chorus - and yet it's still powerful. "We Would Sail Away (Saint Paul)" is excellent too and sounds not unlike a great Randy Newman outtake (high praise indeed).
So there you have it - for some reason I came to this reissue with low expectations and I leave it with exactly the opposite. Doobie Brothers fans have waited decades to see their band's great back catalogue be given the right reissue treatment - and England's Edsel label (who have struck a licensing deal with WEA) - have 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
PPS: Edsel have also re-issued most of the Todd Rundgren catalogue is this series of 2011 2CD sets (also with bonus tracks and extended booklets). And on the strength of these excellent remasters - hopefully Edsel will be able to fill in massive untouched holes in the catalogues of giants like Little Feat, Ry Cooder, James Taylor, Rickie Lee Jones, Prince, Tom Waits etc. We live in hope with the credit card at the ready...