The Doobie Brothers had most of their hit singles from 1972 to 1978. They also released an album a year during that time — from 1972’s Toulouse Street to 1978’s Minute by Minute — that rank among the best of that era. And it wasn’t just the singles. Those albums were full of great songs; it’s hard to find a bad track among them.
Those albums were also in heavy rotation on my stereo, throughout my teenage years. So with the band just nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (the inductees list won’t be announced until next year) and the band scheduled to perform at the Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena in Atlantic City on Nov. 22, it seemed like a good time to make a list of their 20 best non-singles, just to remind people how great those albums are.
(Note: I re-listened to all the band’s studio albums for this. I did consider songs recorded before and after the 1972-to-1978 period, but feel that these are the 20 best, given the non-single restriction.)
Here are the 20, in order of preference, and, below them, a Spotify playlist.
1. “Natural Thing.” From The Captain and Me, 1973.
2. “Song to See You Through.” From What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, 1974.
3. “You Belong to Me.” From Livin’ on the Fault Line, 1977. Co-written by Michael McDonald and Carly Simon, this song became a major hit for Simon when she released her version of it, in 1978.
4. “Rockin’ Down the Highway.” From Toulouse Street, 1973.
5. “Toulouse Street.” From Toulouse Street, 1973. The Doobie Brothers rarely were dark and mysterious. But there were so, here, and it worked out well.
6. “Neal’s Fandango.” From Stampede, 1975. “Neal” refers to Neal Casady, the writer, friend of the Grateful Dead, and inspiration for the Dean Moriarty character in Jack Kerouac’s novel “On the Road.”
7. “White Sun.” From Toulouse Street, 1973.
8. “Spirit.” From What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, 1974.
9. “Mamaloi.” From Toulouse Street, 1973. The Doobie Brothers had a signature sound, but also sometimes did songs that sound like nothing else in their catalog. One of their biggest hits, “Black Water,” is a good example of this. So is “Mamaloi.”
10. “South City Midnight Lady.” From The Captain and Me, 1973.
11. “Without You.” From The Captain and Me, 1973.
12. “Here to Love You.” From Minute by Minute, 1978.
13. “8th Avenue Shuffle.” From Takin’ It to the Streets, 1976.
14. “Don’t Start Me to Talkin’.” From Toulouse Street, 1973. Written by blues great Sonny Boy Williamson, and given a distinctive new arrangement here.
15. “Ukiah.” From The Captain and Me, 1973. The title refers to Ukiah, Calif.
16. “Losin’ End.” From Takin’ It to the Streets, 1976.
17. “For Someone Special.” From Takin’ It to the Streets, 1976. Written and sung by Doobie Brothers bassist Tiran Porter.
18. “Tell Me What You Want (And I’ll Give You What You Need).” From What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, 1974.
19. “Double Dealin’ Four Flusher.” From Stampede, 1975.
20. “Clear as the Driven Snow.” From The Captain and Me, 1973.
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