Doobie Brothers – Livin´ On The Fault Line (1977)

FrontCover1.jpgLivin’ on the Fault Line is the seventh studio album by the American rock band The Doobie Brothers, released in 1977. It is one of the few Doobie Brothers albums of the 1970s which did not produce a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 (although “You Belong to Me” was a hit as recorded by co-author Carly Simon). Still, the album received modest critical acclaim. Tom Johnston (guitar, vocals) left the band early in the sessions. He is listed as part of the band (appearing in the inside group photo) but appears on little or none of the actual album; despite writing and singing five songs during the sessions for the album, they were not included on the final release. Much of this consistently mellow album has a jazz tinge, and the influences of R&B are palpable throughout. The track “Little Darling (I Need You)” is a remake of the Marvin Gaye 1966 hit. (by wikipedia)

Livin’ on the Fault Line fell between two of the Doobie Brothers’ biggest-selling records. The album had no hit singles, and one-time leader Tom Johnston kept a markedly low profile (this would be his last record with the group, not including a later reunion). Despite this, Livin’ on the Fault Line contains some of the most challenging and well-developed music of the band’s career, with Patrick Simmons and Michael McDonald really stepping to the fore.


There’s a vague mood of melancholia running through the songs, as well as a definite jazz influence. This is most obvious on the title track, which has several instrumental passages that showcase the guitar abilities of Simmons and Jeff Baxter. Similarly, “Chinatown” is a spooky mood piece not unlike the smooth fusion of late-period Steely Dan or Little Feat. But “Echoes of Love” and “Nothin’ But a Heartache” are both intelligent, glistening pop songs that confirm Simmons and McDonald as first-rate tunesmiths. The record slips a little at the end, with a plodding R&B song and a Piedmont guitar instrumental thrown in as filler. Overall, though, this is a chapter in the Doobie Brothers’ history that deserves a second look. (by Peter Kurtz)


Jeff Baxter (guitar, steel guitar)
John Hartman (drums)
Keith Knudsen (drums, vocals)
Michael McDonald (keyboards, synthesizer, vocals)
Tiran Porter (bass, vocals)
Patrick Simmons (guitar, vocals)
Dan Armstrong (electric sitar solo on 09.)
Norton Buffalo (harmonica on 08.)
Rosemary Butler (background vocals on 03., 04. + 08.)
Victor Feldman (vibraphone on 05.)
Bobby LaKind (congas, vocals)
Maureen McDonald (background vocals on 01.)
Ted Templeman (percussion)


01. You’re Made That Way (McDonald/Baxter/Knudsen) 3.30
02. Echoes Of Love (Simmons/Mitchell/Randle) 2.57
03. Little Darling (I Need You) (Holland/Dozier/Holland) 3.24
04. You Belong To Me (Simon/McDonald) 3.04
05. Livin’ On The Fault Line (Simmons) 4.42
06. Nothin’ But A Heartache (McDonald) 3.05
07. Chinatown (Simmons) 4.55
08. There’s A Light (McDonald) 4.12
09. Need A Lady (Porter) 3.21
10. Larry The Logger Two-Step (Simmons) 1.16




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