- Natural Thing, China Grove and Long Train Runnin’ all sound excellent – smooth, rich and full of energy
- Credit Donn Landee with the full-bodied, rich, smooth, oh-so-analog sound of these good copies
- 4 1/2 stars: “The Doobie Brothers’ third long-player was the charm, their most substantial and consistent album to date, and one that rode the charts for a year.”
- If you’re a fan of the band, this title from 1973 is clearly one of their best, and one of their best sounding
- The complete list of titles from 1973 that we’ve reviewed to date can be found here.
There are some great songs on this album, songs that still get plenty of play on the radio: China Grove, Long Train Running and South City Midnight Lady all come to mind. It’s tough to find great sounding copies, but it’s worth all the trouble when you get one with this kind of rich, full tonality, punchy bottom end and real space and ambiance.
This vintage pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the Best Sides of The Captain and Me Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1973
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Most of the better Doobies Brothers albums are his; more by Van Halen of course; Lowell George’s wonderful Thanks I’ll Eat It Here; Little Feat’s Time Loves a Hero (not their best music but some of their best sound); Carly Simon’s Another Passenger (my favorite of all her albums); and his Masterpiece (in my humble opinion), Captain Beefheart’s mindblowing Clear Spot.
What We’re Listening For on The Captain and Me
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Long Train Runnin’
Dark Eyed Cajun Woman
Clear As The Driven Snow
South City Midnight Lady
Busted Down Around O’Connelly Corners
The Captain and Me
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
The Doobie Brothers’ third long-player was the charm, their most substantial and consistent album to date, and one that rode the charts for a year.
It was also a study in contrasts, Tom Johnston’s harder-edged, bolder rocking numbers balanced by Patrick Simmons’ more laid-back country-rock ballad style. The leadoff track, Johnston’s “Natural Thing,” melded the two, opening with interlocking guitars and showcasing the band’s exquisite soaring harmonies around a beautiful melody, all wrapped up in a midtempo beat — the result was somewhere midway between Allman Brothers-style virtuosity and Eagles/Crosby & Nash-type lyricism, which defined this period in the Doobies’ history and gave them a well-deserved lock on the top of the charts.
Next up was the punchy, catchy “Long Train Runnin’,” a piece they’d been playing for years as an instrumental — a reluctant Johnston was persuaded by producer Ted Templeman to write lyrics to it and record the song, and the resulting track became the group’s next hit. The slashing, fast-tempo “China Grove” and “Without You” represented the harder side of the Doobies’ sound, and were juxtaposed with Simmons’ romantic country-rock ballads “Dark Eyed Cajun Woman,” “Clear as the Driven Snow,” and “South City Midnight Lady.”
Simmons also showed off his louder side with “Evil Woman,” while Johnston showed his more reflective side with “Ukiah” and “The Captain and Me” — the latter, a soaring rocker clocking in at nearly five minutes, features radiant guitars and harmonies, soaring ever higher and faster to a triumphant finish.