The Doobie Brothers' Tom Johnston says the idea of full-album shows has "been brought up a couple of times, but it just seemed to go by the wayside." Not anymore.
The Doobies will play a pair of their best-known albums — 1972's platinum Toulouse Street and 1973's double-platinum The Captain and Me — start to finish (along with "select hits") during special shows Nov. 15 and 16, respectively, at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. Tickets go on sale July 23. Johnston credits the Doobies' agent, Mitch Rose at CAA, with presenting the idea, and the group is whole-heartedly on board.
"It should be quite a trip," Johnston tells Streets Talkin. "We've never done anything like this. I'm looking forward to it." He added that the Doobies have been rehearsing the material at sound checks during its just-finished tour with Steely Dan and will continue during the time off.
"I've always been curious how people would react to hearing them played live in an album sequence as opposed to the way you'd normally play (the songs) live, 'cause it's a different thing altogether listening to a record as opposed to a live performance," Johnston says. "And then there's a lot of deep cuts that we don't normally play. I think that's the most interesting part for people because everybody's heard the hits. And there's some of them that we've never played, which is really making this interesting for us." Among those rarities, according to Johnston, are Toulouse Street's "White Sun" and "Mamaloi," and The Captain and Me's title track.
"Some of (the songs) have received treatments, if you will, that kind of change them from the original album feel, the original sound and the way they were arranged," Johnston reports. "It's still the same (songs) but they’ll have maybe an extension on it where people can jam a little bit that makes it a little more interesting than, 'Bang, here's a song' and it ends and there goes the song."
Might the full-album foray lead into more shows from the Doobies? "You never know," Johnston says. "I think we'll get through this one and then we'll figure it out from there. We've never done this, so we're newbies, but I think once we pull this off we'll see how we feel. Two separate albums in two separate nights is quite an undertaking, but I think it's gonna be a lot of fun — especially for the people who are really into the band and are probably going to be there in the first place. It should be a treat."
The Doobies are gearing up to treat those fans to some new music, too, in the not too distant future. It's been eight years since the group's last studio album, World Gone Crazy, and four since the country covers set Southbound; Johnston reports that he, Patrick Simmons and John McFee have been writing songs and plan to start taking them into the studio once the Doobies are off the road.
"We probably won't do an album just because people don't buy albums anymore, so it'll probably be more like four or five songs, an EP, just to see what happens," Johnston says. "To me it just adds validity to the band. I don't want to be forever known as the guys that just rubber stamp every night when they go on stage. If we can pull new music into the set it's not only interesting to the people but it's interesting for us. Both those things are positive."