This twofer released in 2011 captures The Doobie Brothers at their most creative. Stampede was their fifth album and was released in April 1975. It reached number 4 on the Billboard top albums chart. It has a western theme which is why the members of the band have decided to climb onto horseback to be photographed, apart from Skunk Baxter who wisely stayed on the ground. They even namecheck the horses used for the photo shoot ! There were three singles issued from the album. The first is a cover of Take Me In Your Arms which was originally sung by Kim Weston. Tom Johnston sings the vocal and the song reached number 11 on the singles chart. The second single Sweet Maxine again with a lead vocal by Johntson is a more typical guitar driven shuffle by the band and reached number 40 in July 1975. The third single was I Cheat The Hangman with the lead vocal by Pat Simmons. This is a weird choice for a single as it sounds like a prog rock album track and only reached number 60. Ry Cooder adds slide guitar on Rainy Day Crossroad Blues which is very atmospheric. Takin' It To The Streets was their sixth album and was released in March 1976. It reached number 8 on the album chart and introduced the new guy Michael McDonald on vocals and keyboards. The first single from the album was the storming Takin' It To The Streets which reached number 8 on the singles chart. The second single was the more reflective Wheels Of Fortune which reached a lowly number 87. The third and final single was It Keeps You Runnin' which reached number 37 on the chart. This song was also covered by Carly Simon on her Another Passenger album which was also produced by Ted Templeman and had The Doobie Brothers playing on it.
One of the best bands of the 1970s, although perhaps somewhat underrated in the UK, this is a superb combination of two great Doobies' albums packaged together as a double CD. "Takin' It To The Streets" is their best ever album in my opinion, in which the excellent vocals of Michael McDonald introduce an altogether more sophisticated dimension to the band, without taking away anything from their original sound. Best tracks are "Losin' End", "For Someone Special", "It Keeps You Runnin'", and perhaps best of all "Carry Me Away", with "Neal's Fandango" and "Music Man" being the highlights on "Stampede". That said, all tracks on both albums are great and there aren't really any duds. With a few bonus tracks added to the originals, this is a great double CD, well worth owning.
UK released Monday 26 September 2011 as a 2CD set - 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 all of them with confidence - and roll on Little Feat, Ry Cooder, James Taylor, Rickie Lee Jones, Prince, Tom Waits etc...
PS: to date - there are 4 releases for The Doobie Brothers in this series (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)
This an inspired pairing of two excellent, but highly contrasting albums from a great US rock and roll institution. 'Stampede' was the last of the Doobie Brothers as they were originally formulated - the hard-rocking former biker band, and features the superb Motown cover 'Take Me In Your Arms', and the epic 'I Cheat The Hangman'. 'Takin' It To The Streets' marked Michael McDonald's debut with the band, and features the sparkling 'It Keeps You Runnin' anad the hit title track, which refreshed the band's commercial standing whilst taking them off in a new and unsuspected, daring new direction. This reissue also scores because it features some worthwhile bonus cuts, and the real ace is the remastering, which is detailed and precise whilst losing none of the crunchy rocking of the first album, or the fine textures of the second. Wonderful music and a sleeve note worth reading, I commend this brace of Doobie delights to you wholeheartedly.
Superb! I have a number of CD issues of Stampede and own an original vinyl mint copy but the remastering on these cd's is quite astounding! Want two drum kits blasting out from each speaker, you get it. Want glorious harmonies, same again. Acoustic guitars that sound as though someone is actually playing live in your lounge, its there! Another reviewer here, Mark Gerard Barry, has detailed the significance of this release perfectly (you are obviously a fan!).
If you are a Doobie's fan and an audiophile look no further, this is the real deal! 'Stampede' is one of the greatest albums to come out of the USA and this release captures the music perfectly. It is not 'digitised' and clinical like some remastered material from the 70's. It has depth warmth and realism. Sweet music!
Following the success of 'The Captain & Me' & 'What Were Once Vices' the Doobies critical star sunk without trace in the UK - this was a travesty which this double aims to redress. 'Stampede' from the mid 70s is a superb Americana record (whatever that means) featuring Ry Cooder & Curtis Mayfield with stand tracks such as 'Music Man', 'I Cheat The Hangman' & 'Rainy Day Crossroad Blues' it's undiscovered gem of a record. The second record 'Takin' It To The Streets' sees the band shift away from their country/folk roots to a more sophisticated soul sound with Michael McDonald at the helm - that said it does contain some fine songs 'Losin' End' being MM's best ever song. There are half a dozen bonus songs and for once these enhance the record. Over 70 minutes with hardly dud song - highly recommended.