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"
William Keats says
You have to be pretty desperate for surround treatments of classic albums to want 40-year-old mixes of these, or releases by any of the other bands subjected to this kind of exploitation. The 4-channel mixes created in the late '70s were more of a gimmick than anything else, probably goaded on by a few key hi-fi manufacturers. But anything Rhino finds on a shelf must be considered for its commercial value, I suppose.
Eric Kalet says
The key here is not desperation but wanting the best possible sound quality that we can get. Here is a great opportunity not only to have stereo versions at 192/24 but also the 4 channel mixes from the master tapes. The last time any of these albums had audiophile treatment was the fantastic DVD-audio of The Captain and Me, now long out of print, not easy to find. In addition, the Quad mixes to these albums were no joke, fully discrete all 4 channels lighting up the sound stage. But even for someone not interested in the Quad, this stereo version of these will likely be the best we will ever get of these albums, bar none.
Totally agree with you about everything you say. I have the surround "Captain" and it's glorious. Quad was not a fad per say, as it was never really that popular in the 70's. What it was though was a gimmick. It was entered into by every single hi-if hardware manufacturer and most mainstream labels (albeit with too many competing formats). Warner was especially adept at the engineering with their CD4 solution for LP. I had "Vices" and "Captain" on CD4 LP, and still have both of those plus "Stampede" on quad 8 track, which I can still play. I know the mixes well, and they're great. I for one can't wait to get my hands on this set.
Oops, meant to say "what it WASN'T was a gimmick".
Whatever the reason, as a Doobie fan since early 70s, any quality recording of their great music interests me. Still amazed to some degree, how single releases dictate the success of an album when they are often the least impressive cuts. I e always felt the Doobies are one of a very few bands that produce albums with no need to ship tracks. All the songs are good. Cant say that about alot of big name bands -- including Led Zeplin among others.
Daryl Restly says
I'd love to see Elvis Presley's late 60s and 1970s albums that were issued in quadraphonic in the U.S. and elsewhere on a variety of formats (LP, 8 track, reel to reel) gathered together into a box set like this with the quadraphonic mixes reissued on Blu Ray audio.
Daryl Restly says
I wanted to add that Elvis Presley's "Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite" double album was initially issued in quadraphonic and it was the very first quadraphonic album to top the Billboard albums chart in 1973.
Paul Blubaugh says
I've got conversions of these quad mixes, and they are fantastic. If the sound quality of this set is half as good as the Chicago Quadio set, it's going to be sublime. Compared to other current box sets this is a bargain. I'm so glad Rhino finally got around to this.
Slim Pikkenz says
All of my favorite Southern Rockers hail from San Jose California.
Joe Marchese says
No snark necessary. The line was intended to read "southern-flavored rockers," which is accurate. The Doobies' original sound was influenced by delta blues; the Mississippi delta has been referred to as "the most southern place on Earth." Now if they'd been referred to as Southern California rockers, that would be out of line...(I know the way to San Jose.) Thanks for reading.
James M Wood says
I owned a quad system in the 70's and absolutely loved it. Instruments that fell into the stereo mix were far more prominent because they were mic'd separately. I had Moody Blues in Quad. Paul Simon and even George Benson. It was no gimmick but it requires a quad system which didn't get enough commercial support. So virtually any stereo recording that had discreet audio tracks can have the Quad or true Surround mixes like you were standing between the musicians. I'm looking forward to this revival.
When you say 'Quad' you get people who like to badmouth it for the standard reasons. They may have never heard a quad release reproduced properly or aren't one of those who care to immerse themselves in the music. Many quad releases feature different mixes.
Quad/surround isn't like being in the studio when it is recorded. The quad and stereo mixes are crafted from many different takes of (typically) separate vocal and whatever instrumentation is required. The recording process can be tedious and time consuming. Many people would be bored in a recording studio.
Others hear 'Quad!' and they light up. Quad is special. Not quite a 5.1 surround mix, but similar. No center channel featuring mainly vocals like 5.1, quad puts the vocals back into the recording.
I have (too) many quad lps. Also cartridge and reel tapes and all of the various devices & decoders needed for playback. All of this equipment takes up a lot of space.
When I'm alerted to these new quad reissues first thing that comes to mind is I'm getting a pristine copy that sounds as good as the day the mix was completed whether great or so-so. (Same goes for current material mixed in surround. There's good and bad.)
Personally, I prefer SACD and there are reissue companies still releasing in that format. Others claim blu-ray is superior. I buy both and only need one machine for playback. (Sony UBP-X700, one of the few affordable machines with SACD compatible hdmi output instead of RCA jacks.)
I did about 75 quad content to dts conversions in the mid to late 2000s. Dts because it was easy and quick. And the sound was good. Plus I could play it back on one machine.
Anyone that buys quad knows it was primarily to sell higher end equipment and usually the older crowd had a little extra to spend. That would explain the glut of easy listening and classical music in quad found in thrift stores.
CBS is the prime offender there. CBS was also responsible for a lot of pop and rock, but I have found their SQ mixes less than satisfactory. They also seem to have missed the big hit album for many acts only to release follow up albums that weren't as popular. To be fair, RCA passed on David Bowie in quad and MCA didn't see a need to expand Elton John to 4 speakers. ABC/Dunhill destroyed many their master tapes in the 70s because storage space was expensive. This would explain the lack of Steely Dan surround discs among others. So we're stuck with those muddy sounding quad lps unless someone had the forethought to walk off with those treasures. RCA was also known to have razed the odd warehouse containing audio classics.
(See the trend? Record companies don't treat their history very well.)
Cd-4 was the choice of the Warner Group and had the best separation of lp quad. Too bad they didn't budge from dvd-a in the future.
Tape formats were 4 channel and offered separation superior to all quad disc formats.
When SACD arrived the Hybrid moniker confused many who thought they were purchasing a surround disc.
One again CBS, now Sony, felt the need to flood the market. Because SACD was their baby, discs by practically every mediocre pop band on their roster filled the racks. Consumers purchasing this music were not interested in these badly produced surround mixes on SACD or DualDisc. So a finally superior surround format was under utilized at a time people were beginning to upgrade their audio systems and their speaker numbers.
I recall having SACD titles on order, then back order, then cancelled.
Pure Audio blu-ray discs looked promising, but never really took off. Partly because enough titles weren't released and many classic albums that were released lacked a surround mix or any extras. Much as I dislike them out takes & alternate mixes would have helped. Some were released in stereo then later in surround.
Rhino first dipped a toe in the quad water with dvd discs by Chicago and Aretha Franklin.
I thought this might be the start of something given the catalogue of quad material they were sitting on, but that's as far as it went. Rhino is not the outfit they used to be.
Thankfully there was the Chicago box, errors and all.
John F. says
I heard Surf's Up in Quad, in Radio Shack, way back when. Can still remember the incredible, beautiful experience of it. I'm half deaf now, but nearly equally so in both ears, so Surround Sound is still a thrill. Listened to Electric Ladyland the other day, in 5.1 ... it's glorious. I'm not a big Doobies fan, but I just might jump on these when the time comes.
David B says
Wow . .this is definitely a release to look forward to .. i don't have the Chicago set but do have quad releases by the Doors, The Guess Who, Jethro Tull and many others- all of which sound incredible .. so this is a cert .. and at a great price .. incredible .. thanks ..
Peter Chrisp says
Must admit the Chicago quad mixes sounded great. In regards to The Doobies do we get 2 versions.? A 5.1 mix & a sterio mix inclusive?
“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.”
Oops- meant to say no 5.1 mix - instead, the two included versions are stereo (2.0) and quad (4.0)
u have to be pretty desperate for surround treatments of classic albu
Already pre-ordered this set as I missed the Chicago Quadio box set. Now if we can only get a Blu-ray Quad box set of Santana's many recordings in that format!
peter chrisp says
Sam thanks for your reply i know what you mean, sounds quite good to me. After having bought the huge Chicago box set in the same format will definitely go for it. I actually wonder how it works out, and who makes the decision on what albums to select? I'd imagine it's the band idea to make those selections. Must admit that would be a great idea to go down a similar path to Santana.