The Doobie Brothers – What Were Once Vices… – Our Shootout Winner from 2011

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame.

This quiet Palm Tree Label pressing is one of the best sounding copies of this album we’ve ever played! We had a massive shootout for this fun album recently and this was the big winner, earning an A+++ grade for the first side and a strong A++ for the second. Drop the needle anywhere on side one; you won’t believe how open, clear and dynamic the sound is. It’s also big, present and spacious with unusually high resolution. No other side one we played came close. Black Water sounds KILLER here! 

We sure don’t find too many copies like this that sound correct from start to finish and play quietly, but this one sure knocked us out. The sound is strong down low with the kind of three-dimensional imaging that bring the music of the Doobs to life in your listening room!

These songs sound every bit as good now as they did thirty plus years ago when they came out. Better, because we can clean their records and play them so much better than we could back then. I’ll be the first to admit that back in the day I was a bit of a snob when it came to bands like this. Too mainstream. Too radio-friendly. Now I realize that the best of this kind of pop rock has stood the test of time very well. One listen and we think you’ll agree: this is good music that belongs in your collection.

Lee Herschberg, Engineer Extraordinaire

One of the top guys at Warners, Lee recorded What Once Were Vices… (along with Donn Landee, who would take over the engineering duties on subsequent releases) as well as the first Doobie Brothers album. You’ll also find his name in the credits for many of the best releases by the Ry Cooder, Randy Newman, Gordon Lightfoot and Frank Sinatra, albums we know to have outstanding sound (potentially anyway; if you’re on this site you know very well that you have to have an outstanding pressing to hear outstanding sound).

And of course we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the album most audiophiles know all too well, Rickie Lee Jones’ debut. Herschberg’s pop and rock engineering credits run for pages. Won the Grammy for Strangers in the Night in fact.

The most amazing jazz piano trio recording we know of is Herschberg’s as well: The Three (with Shelly Manne, Ray Brown and Joe Sample).


Side One

Song to See You Through 
Pursuit on 53rd St. 
Black Water 
Eyes of Silver 
Road Angel

Side Two

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

AMG Review

The Doobies team up with the Memphis Horns for an even more Southern-flavored album than usual… By this time, Tom Johnston, Patrick Simmons, and company had pretty well inherited the mantle and the core (and then some) of the audience left behind by Creedence Clearwater Revival and John Fogerty, with Johnston songs like “Pursuit on 53rd Street,” “Down in the Track,” and “Road Angel” recalling pieces like “Travelin’ Band,” while Simmons’ “Black Water” (their first number one hit) evoked the softer side of the “swamp rock” popularized by CCR.