Doobie Brothers – World Gone Crazy (House of Rock) – CD review – Is it possible for a band to re-record a song from 40 years ago and actually outdo the original version? In the case of the Doobie Brothers, and their song “Nobody,” the answer is a resounding YES.
World Gone Crazy, the first studio album from the band in ten years, reunites them with Ted Templeman, who produced all of their albums from the Seventies. It was his idea for the band to revisit the old song; the 2010 version of “Nobody” is bluesier, the lead vocals are meatier, and the whole track has a groove that was missing in the original.
The first time the band reunited in 1989, they chose to rewrite their signature song “China Grove,” and turned it into a surprise hit, “The Doctor.” But, this time around, the Doobies aren’t copying their old sound. Instead, World Gone Crazy is a mix of many styles: blues, rock, soul, country; yet nothing sounds like a stretch. It’s all held together by the ever-present acoustic guitars and great vocals. The album shows a group that’s completely comfortable in their (older) skin. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the song “Young Man’s Game,” which is a musical defense of veteran bands like the Doobies that are still playing rock n’ roll — music that used to be exclusive to a younger generation.
Another surprise is the Latin-infused “Old Juarez,” which sounds like a latter-day track from Santana. The disc features several guests, including former Little Feat pianist Billy Payne, who adds some very tasty licks. Also making an appearance is the band’s former vocalist Michael McDonald, who sings backup on “Don’t Say Goodbye.” It’s a perfect song for his voice; it’s just too bad he’s relegated to a cameo role. Probably the biggest shock is the odd teaming with country legend Willie Nelson for “I Know We Won.”
World Gone Crazy isn’t some classic band trying to relive their glory days; instead it’s a snapshot of the Doobie Brothers in present tense, and this 2010 version is quite content filtering all their diverse influences into a disc that’s both relaxed and enjoyable. –Tony Peters
Collector’s Note: For just a few extra bucks, there’s a “deluxe” edition, which features two bonus tracks, plus a DVD with the stellar music video for “Nobody,” and an excellent 30 minute documentary of the entire group’s history. Among the archival tidbits is the Doobies on the TV shows “What’s Happening,” “The Tonight Show,” and the “Grammys.’ There’s also extensive interviews with Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons and even Michael McDonald.