The Doobie Brothers: For The Benefit of Mr Kite (and Mr Lion, Mr Elephant…)
19th January 2018
Title: Rockin’ Down The Highway
Label: Floating World
An intriguing one this, because The Doobie Brothers recorded this double CD affair in 1996 as a benefit concert for the Wildlife Conservation Society. Well, to be exact, the music here comes from two dates for that organisation: 6 and 11 May 1996.
As you can hear all three of the group’s lead vocalists Tom Johnston, Michael McDonald and Patrick Simmons — performed with the group. This in itself was an important moment. A first, in fact. That being the case, as you might expect, the band decided to mine the treasures of the past – China Grove and What a Fool Believes sat alongside Minute by Minute and Long Train Runnin’. More excitement was held by the inclusion of two new songs provously unreleased on any album.
I have seen reviews of this album around the Internet, trashing the concept, the performances and existence of the album at all. I disagree with those sentiments. There’s plenty of energy here, the group sound on form and the sound they produce is not only articulate but coherent.
In terms of mastering, there is plenty to like here. Yes there’s a sense of compression over the music but most commercial CDs have it. Importantly, compression or peak limiting has not been overdone so the midrange retains a relative smoothness while bass keeps a notion of the organic here.
As live performance, the audience is there for the ear to pick up but the sound engineer has retained a balance so it never swamps the performers while the various instruments all have a fighting chance to be heard across the soundstage.
A valuable CD package from the Doobie Brothers, offering plenty of highlights and value for any fan of the band.