After years of speculation, Rhino has announced a new box set of rare 1970s quadraphonic surround sound mixes from The Doobie Brothers called Quadio. A follow-up to 2016’s successful Chicago box set of the same name, the Doobies’ Quadio is a limited-edition Blu-ray Audio set featuring the original quadraphonic surround mixes for the band’s second, third, fourth, and fifth LPs, all of which were produced by Ted Templeman. These four-channel mixes were available in stores on special surround sound-encoded LPs and reel-to-reel tapes back in the ’70s and are still lauded for their immersive qualities. The release of Quadio on November 6 to general retail anticipates the induction of the Doobies into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the very next night, but fans purchasing directly from Rhino.com will be able to preview the set early as it’s released there on September 4. The southern-flavored California rockers were also scheduled to reunite with Michael McDonald (who joined the band immediately after the run of albums represented here) in a 50th anniversary tour that has been postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19.
Quadio includes the following four albums on Blu-ray Audio in high resolution 192/24 DTS-HD Master Audio for both the quadraphonic and stereo mixes. While anyone with a Blu-ray player can enjoy these discs, the 4.0 quad mixes are only available for those with a surround set-up.
- Toulouse Street (1972);
- The Captain & Me (1973);
- What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits (1974); and
- Stampede (1975)
While the group’s 1971 self-titled debut originally didn’t yield any chart hits – Tom Johnston’s “Nobody” did hit No. 58 on the Billboard Hot 100 in a re-release over three years later – the Doobies’ fortunes changed considerably with Toulouse Street. The album welcomed bassist Tiran Porter and second drummer Michael Hossack (joining John Hartman) and opened with Johnston’s “Listen to the Music,” sung by Johnston and Pat Simmons. The irresistible entreaty peaked at No. 11 on the Hot 100 and remains a staple today; the second single, a cover of Arthur Reid Reynolds’ “Jesus Is Just Alright,” also peaked within the top 40. Toulouse Street peaked at No. 21 on the Top LPs and Tapes chart, and eventually went platinum.
The Captain and Me kicked off a run of seven consecutive top 10 album smashes for the band. The 2x Platinum album yielded the hits “China Grove” (No. 15 Pop) and “Long Train Runnin'” (No. 8) while the LP itself made No. 7 on the Top LPs survey. It’s since been certified 2x platinum, as has been its follow-up, What Once Were Vices Are Now Habits. (The Captain & Me has been available in 5.1 surround on DVD-A and SACD but this release marks its quadraphonic debut on Blu-ray Audio.)
Vices had one of the Doobies’ most unusual trajectories. The first single “Another Park, Another Sunday” fared moderately well on the chart, reaching No. 32. “Eyes of Silver” did less well, at No. 52. Warner Bros. almost lost faith, next reissuing “Nobody.” But when the label turned to the B-side of “Another Park,” a little song called “Black Water,” the Doobies struck gold. Pat Simmons’ New Orleans-inspired song became the band’s very first No. 1 on the Hot 100; its beguiling a cappella section was influenced by Ted Templeman’s old group, Harpers Bizarre.
The final album in Quadio, 1975’s Stampede, would prove to be the final album before Michael McDonald replaced Tom Johnston as lead singer and main songwriter. The Gold-certified album also welcomed Jeff “Skunk” Baxter as a third guitarist and Keith Knudsen replacing Michael Hossack. Guests included Bill Payne, Ry Cooder, Maria Muldaur, Bobbye Hall, Venetta Fields, Sherlie Matthews, and Victor Feldman as well as arranger Nick DeCaro, Curtis Mayfield, and Paul Riser. Its three singles weren’t able to build on the success of “Black Water,” though a delicious cover of the Motown staple “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While)” peaked just out of the top 10.
With Tom Johnston sidelined by health concerns, Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s fellow Steely Dan alumnus Michael McDonald joined the Doobies; 1976’s Takin’ It to the Streets would reflect the major change in the band’s style brought on by his presence. (Johnston did appear on a couple of its tracks.) Whereas the McDonald era is characterized by its sleek, sophisticated pop, the era represented on Quadio showcases the fusion of blues, soul, rock, gospel, and country into a sound that’s still unmistakably that of The Doobie Brothers.
Each album in the Quadio box is packaged in a mini-LP replica sleeve. This deluxe set is due on September 4 at Rhino.com (see the link below) and November 6 at all other fine retailers. Look for the band on tour, reunited with Michael McDonald, next summer.
The Doobie Brothers, Quadio (Warner/Rhino, 2020) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada Links TBD)
Blu-Ray 1: Toulouse Street (Warner Bros. BS/BS4 2634, 1972)
- “Listen To The Music”
- “Rockin’ Down The Highway”
- “Toulouse Street”
- “Cotton Mouth”
- “Don’t Start Me To Talkin'”
- “Jesus Is Just Alright”
- “White Sun”
- “Snake Man”
Blu-ray 2: The Captain & Me (Warner Bros. BS/BS4 2694, 1973)
- “Natural Thing”
- “Long Train Runnin'”
- “China Grove”
- “Dark Eyed Cajun Woman”
- “Clear As The Driven Snow”
- “Without You”
- “South City Midnight Lady”
- “Evil Woman”
- “Busted Down Around O’Connelly Corners”
- “The Captain And Me”
Blu-ray 3: What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits (Warner Bros. W/W4 2750, 1974)
- “Song To See You Through”
- “Pursuit On 53rd St.”
- “Black Water”
- “Eyes Of Silver”
- “Road Angel”
- “You Just Can’t Stop It”
- “Tell Me What You Want (And I’ll Give You What You Need)”
- “Down In The Track”
- “Another Park, Another Sunday”
- “Daughters Of The Sea”
- “Flying Cloud”
Blu-ray 4: Stampede (Warner Bros. BS/BS4 2835, 1975)
- “Sweet Maxine”
- “Neal’s Fandango”
- “Texas Lullaby”
- “Music Man”
- “Slack Key Soquel Rag”
- “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me A Little While)”
- “I Cheat The Hangman”
- “Rainy Day Crossroad Blues”
- “I Been Workin’ On You”
- “Double Dealin’ Four Flusher”