The Doobie Brothers have just released the tasty “Farewell Tour” 1983 album again, as a remastered, expanded collection. The original concert recording of their final show on the 1982 farewell tour includes a bonus four tracks from the Berkeley, California Greek Theatre date that wrapped up the Doobies for a brief time.
What you get on this newly released CD and DVD is a beat-down of Doobies hits that starts out “eighties-fast” – that… unusual phenomenon where most live acts from the seventies had those blazing fast versions of their classics throughout the eighties. Many of the songs seem to have that feel, as you relive the original album’s majesty, and relearn these sped-up live tracks that in some cases drastically rework the originals.
“Listen to the Music” leads the way, and the energy is on fire through the next track, “Sweet Maxine;” it continues with Doobie standard “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” which always is a crowd favorite of the biker-heavy audience. This was not just The Doobie Brothers, of course, but Michael McDonald, too.
Mike had joined the line-up in the mid-seventies and brought along a lot of melody, great vocals, keyboard playing, and a string of hits. His first real mark on this record is the “You Belong to Me” which pours out the soul, reminding this listener of the raw power Michael McDonald consistently brings to the table. The version of this jam is easily one of the stand-out tracks of the album.
The band blisters through “Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me)” with a kind of energy that shows off the tightness of the group at that moment; what you have here is the final date on a tour, plus being performed in their hometown, so the precision level is high. Everybody is firing on all cylinders from the get-go. “Long Train Runnin’” keeps the frenzy at full-tilt, with ferocious playing all around. “Black Water” delivers the sing-along session of the night, though at a Doobies show, there are a lot of moments to join in.
“Minute By Minute” is another chestnut of the Michael McDonald years; it leads into the “Slat Key Soquel Rag” and “Out on the Streets,” which is a nice dip into slightly deeper Doobie territory. What the album keeps doing is maintain the hit atmosphere, but occasionally take you on a deeper ride, like with these last couple of gems.
“What A Fool Believes” has always been one of my favorite Doobie Brothers songs. Maybe it’s the lyrics you can relate to, and put yourself into, through tales of missed opportunities and squandered love; maybe it’s the catchy phrasing and familiarity of the song, bringing you back in time via the nostalgia invariably created. It’s a dead-on smash live on this farewell tour recording.
The old classic spiritual remake “Jesus Is Just Alright” and “Takin’ it to the Streets” burn with the soul of the band at high, with soaring guitar solos and climactic vocals. “China Grove” with Tom Johnston doing that legendary appearance he made with the boys, nailing his song, and the raging reunion with Porter, Hossack and Hartman on "Listen to the Music" as the finale.
Bonus tracks fill-out the disc, including the absolutely lifting version of “Real Love” included. Such soulful vocals, and everyone shining, especially showcasing how much our Maui ohana, guitarist and good friend Pat Simmons and brother Michael McDonald, bring to the Doobies party. Nice work boys.