The first two tracks on World Gone Crazy, A Brighter Day and Chateau, stand right up there with the Doobies’ best rockers and should go over very well live. Especially Chateau, which has loads of great singalong harmonies and some fantastic slide guitar by guitarist John McFee. Track four, the title track, is another solid foot tapper, as is My Baby (track eight).
Founders Tom Johnston and Pat Simmons are leading the group, with Johnston taking most of the songwriting and vocals as usual. Simmons’ songs are not quite as strong this time but at least he is trying to re-write Black Water instead of China Grove. There are some very pretty acoustic-based tunes a la Black Water such as Far From Home (nice McFee violin on this one).
The third track, Nobody, is a redone version of the same song from the band’s first album in 1971. Picked acoustic arpeggios, piano and acoustic slide guitar ease you into this track, and then the whole thing picks up and really highlights those Doobie vocal harmonies. This version is tighter and sonically superior to the original and I can see why they decided to bring it back. It’s a great song.
Two guest spots by Michael McDonald and Willie Nelson are surely included to drive CD sales but their tunes are a little distracting – I mean, McDonald barely appears on Don’t Say Goodbye, and honestly it’s a great song without him. Willie’s tune, co-written with Simmons, is just okay. I have always favored Doobies tunes that are slightly more epic and moody, like Clear As The Driven Snow from The Captain and Me. Nobody (the song) surely falls into this category.
There are some clunkers (Old Juarez is a cool tune but is a total rip off of Smooth minus the Santana guitar and Rob Thomas vocal), but overall it’s a nice, solid album and I have already listened to it more than I thought I would. The majority falls into that good old rock and roll category a la Rockin' Down the Highway or Listen to the Music. And that ain’t a bad thing. You a Doobies fan? Get the album.
And if you are wondering if the Doobies can still cut it live, check this out: