It's Only Missing Michael McDonald's Voice (CMH Records Inc.)

Pickin' On The Doobie Brothers

By Bob Mitchell

What a joyous surprise! There may be many Bluegrass fans who are familiar with The Doobie Brothers, but I am not one of them, so I had no idea what to expect. In addition, the cover does not include either a group name or individual musicians' names. However, I can state empathetically that this is one of the most exciting contemporary projects I have heard in a long time. It is engaging and energetic.

Last moth I was in Cleveland on a business trip and was able to visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I did not realize it at the time but I was being prepared for this release. The liner notes say, "the eclectic styles of one of the most prolific and monumental rock bands have come together in striking new instrumental versions," and that is the pure and simple truth. Not only is this release filled with excellent material, but it is also polished, clean, and tight.

The harmonica's opening wail warns you that this is not going to be your typical Bluegrass album. "Long Train Runnin'" is a robust track that belts out the first of twelve impressive songs. One of my favorite cuts is "Black Water," a down and dirty delta blues with some impressive work from the rhythm guitar, fiddle and dobro. "China Grove," like all the other tracks, allows each musician to stretch out, and they certainly find the right groove on this one. "Listen to the Music" is a track title with good advice. You won't be sorry you if you take the time to lend an ear. Rock on!

The players are not a who's who of Bluegrass luminaries, but they do an excellent a job and should be recognized. Kurt Mason and Tom Hall are on harmonica, David Talbot is on banjo, Pat McGrath is on rhythm guitar, Dennis Crouch and Tiran Porter (himself one of the later Doobies) are on upright bass, David West is on guitar and mandolin, Lee Hanover is on dobro, Tim Crouch is on fiddle, and Al DiMarco is on accordion and piano.

To learn more or obtain a copy of this CD, contact CMH Records Inc at PO Box 39439, Los Angeles CA 9003