The Doobie Brothers “Minute By Minute”

Posted 16 Aug 2011 in 70s, Albums of 1978, Albums of the 70s, Rock + Roll

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#467 in the Series) is The Doobie Brothers, Minute By Minute.

Ever since I’ve been around music, or sold music, or reviewed music or even just listened to music, there has always been one argument that has topped the charts in polarization.   That is The Doobie Brothers, “with or without Michael McDonald?”  People go nuts about this.

Let me give my feelings. I’m one of those that actually digs both versions.  I was always a big fan of the earlier Doobie Brother music. What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits (with-out McDonald) is easily my favorite album by the band.  Minute By Minute (with McDonald) is probably my second favorite.  I tell what I don’t like too much and that’s some of the bands biggest hits. You can have “China Grove.” If I never hear that song again I’ll be the better for it.

I love the heck out of Minute By Minute, then again. I’m a huge fan of blue-eyed soul and rock with a jazz feel to it.  The stuff here just had a nice groove to it that I thought sounded sweet.

“Here to Love You” was the opening number. It was written by Michael McDonald and set the tone for what was to come. No, this wasn’t the first album with Michael McDonald, but this was the beginning of the band featuring a that new soulful sound. Some of the older fans might have been surprised by this move. They found out on side one, track one, what they were going to get.

The second track was “What a Fool Believes” was the big hit on Minute By Minute. It was written by McDonald along with Kenny Loggins.

The title cut is followed by a track that might have been on an older album. “Depending on You” has somewhat of an older Doobie feel to it, that’s because it was written by Patrick Simmons.

The same thing can be said for “Don’t Stop to Watch the Wheels.” This is another Simmons tune that featured the departed Tom Johnston on backing vocals.

“Steamer Lane Breakdown” was a great bluegrass sounding tune.

The last song on the disc is the also a Michael McDonald tune, “How Do The Fools Survive.”

One thing I noticed when spinning this in the last few days, was, that there is a good amount of music here to keep the older Doobie fans as well.  The soulful McDonald tracks got the airplay here, but there’s much more to Minute By Minute than just those tracks.

Minute By Minute reached #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart. In order of release, “Depending On You” reached #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart. “Minute By Minute” reached #14 while “What a Fool Believes” was a #1 hit.

As an album, it won the band a Grammy for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal.  The single, “What a Fool Believes” won three Grammy’s. McDonald won the award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)/Best Background Arrangement. Producers Ted Templeman and the band won for Record of the Year, while songwriters McDonald and Loggins won “Song of the Year.”

— Larry Carta

Track listing

  1. “Here to Love You” (McDonald) – 3:58
  2. “What a Fool Believes” (McDonald, Loggins) – 3:41
  3. “Minute by Minute” (McDonald, Abrams) – 3:26
  4. “Dependin’ on You” (Simmons, McDonald) – 3:44
  5. “Don’t Stop to Watch the Wheels” (Simmons, Baxter, Michael Ebert) – 3:26
  6. “Open Your Eyes” (McDonald, Abrams, Henderson) – 3:18
  7. “Sweet Feelin'” (Simmons, Templeman) – 2:41
  8. “Steamer Lane Breakdown” (Simmons) – 3:24
  9. “You Never Change” (Simmons) – 3:26
  10. “How Do the Fools Survive?” (McDonald, Carole Bayer Sager) – 5:12


The Doobie Brothers

  • Patrick Simmons – guitar, vocals
  • Jeff “Skunk” Baxter – guitar, steel guitar
  • Michael McDonald – keyboards, synthesizers, vocals
  • Tiran Porter – bass, vocals
  • John Hartman – drums
  • Keith Knudsen – drums, vocals

Additional Players

  • Bobby LaKind – congas, vocals
  • Tom Johnston – vocals on “Don’t Stop to Watch the Wheels”
  • Nicolette Larson – vocals on “Sweet Feelin'” and “Dependin’ on You”
  • Rosemary Butler – vocals on “Here to Love You” and “Dependin’ on You”
  • Norton Buffalo – harmonica
  • Herb Pederson – banjo
  • Byron Berline – fiddle
  • Lester Abrams – electric piano on “How Do the Fools Survive”
  • Bill Payne – synthesizer (with Michael McDonald) on “What a Fool Believes” and “Minute by Minute”
  • Andrew Love – saxophone
  • Ben Cauley – trumpet
  • Ted Templeman – percussion


Posted by Larry Carta

1 Comment

  1. Jeff (26 Aug 2011, 15:37)

    You are spot on about people’s feelings for the Doobies. Part of their longevity has been their ability to change with what people liked, although I am a fan of the guitar driven Doobies with Tommy Johnston. You mentioned What Were Once Vices Are Now Habits, but Stampede, which was their next, featured a third guitarist….ex-Steely Dan member Jeff Baxter. And they have come full circle with last year’s release, World Gone Crazy. A very strong album.

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