Sonic Grade: D
You may remember reading on the site that we used to like the Nautilus Half-Speed of this title. Playing our Nautilus copy against the better domestic pressings made us wonder what the hell we must have been smoking. The Nautilus was awful — veiled and compressed, with a lightweight bottom end. (The Nautilus of Threshold of a Dream is another one we used to like and boy does that record sound awful these days.)
Maybe we had played a better copy years ago, or maybe we had played some really bad domestics back then, who can say? A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. All we can say for now is that our Hot Stampers are going to blow that audiophile piece of junk — and any other pressing of the album that might exist — right out of the water. (Or your money back.)
And the gold CD too of course. I have never in my life heard a CD sound like this record does, and I don’t think anyone else has either. CDs do some things reasonably well, but few of them have the kind of richness, sweetness and tubey magic that the best vinyl copies of this album do, cleaned right and played on a proper stereo of course.
Their Best Album
This is undoubtedly the band’s MASTERPIECE, assuming you’re a Michael McDonald fan, and we very much are fans here at Better Records. We can now definitively say that the quality of the sound matches the quality of the music. What a WONDERFUL sounding pop record. This is Donn Landee at his best — tonally correct, spacious, clear and sweet, with big bass and vocal choruses that can really take off when called upon. With Ted Templeman running the show this is an Audiophile Quality Pop Music Production that’s as close to perfect as one has any right to expect.
Two of the best songs the band ever produced are on this album. I would put them in a Top Five Best Doobie Brothers Songs of All Time if I had such a list. They are What a Fool Believes and Open Your Eyes (which may actually rank Number One).
The material on this album is the strongest the group ever recorded, and let’s face it, all the best songs are McDonald’s. He really hit his songwriting stride in 1979; there are almost half a dozen classic Michael McDonald songs on this album alone. His 1982 solo album, a desert island disc for us if there ever was one, has about ten more. The guy was on fire in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
1979 Record Of The Year for “What A Fool Believes”
1979 Song Of The Year for “What A Fool Believes”
1979 Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus for “Minute By Minute”
1979 Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals for “What A Fool Believes”
Here to Love You
What a Fool Believes
Minute by Minute
Dependin’ on You
Don’t Stop to Watch the Wheels
Open Your Eyes
Steamer Lane Breakdown
You Never Change
How Do the Fools Survive?
It’s still all pretty compelling even if its appeal couldn’t be more different from the group’s earlier work (i.e., The Captain and Me, etc.). The public loved it, buying something like three million copies, and the recording establishment gave Minute by Minute four Grammy Awards, propelling the group to its biggest success ever.