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The Doobie Brothers: The Captain And Me

Bud Scoppa, Rolling Stone, 10 May 1973

THE DOOBIE BROTHERS are a mainstream rock band with a few crucial limitations and a knack of making good records despite their flaws. Their big hit of a few months ago, 'Listen to the Music', displayed both: Leader Tom Johnston has a full catalog of compelling electric and acoustic guitar riffs, and in the single he puts a bunch of these to use, most importantly in his intro, a modified version of the beginning of Stevie Wonder's 'For Once in My Life'; the instrumental arrangement, spirited but buoyant, is practically irresistible, and the Doobies put it together with precision. What makes the song so irritating after repeated listenings (I've never seen a volume-raiser become a station switcher so quickly) are the affectedly funky singing by Johnston and backup and the shallowness of the song itself. "Ohohoh, listen to the music," and the rest of the things-are-getting-better-day-by-day lyric would wear down even the most optimistic AMer after two or three weeks of hourly exposure, and, once you get past the nice guitar chording and double drumming, there isn't much music to explore. Like all the music of the Doobie Brothers, it has its attractions, but you shouldn't ask too much of it.

Total word count of piece: 598