The ageing Doobies have Willie Nelson as a guest. 'Nuff said?


The Doobies' great

Listen to the Music, Long Train Running


China Grove

in the late 60s/early 70s were driven by urgent guitars and hammering keyboards delivering a forward momentum (which denied the stoner reference of their chosen name). But surely no old fans could fall for the limp, lame and geriatric opener here,

A Brighter Day

(with steel drums and, of all things, a narrative), or the cliched follow-up,



The third track in


- which remakes the version on their debut album to replicate the energy of

Listen to the Music

and with founder Tom Johnston's distinctive guitar - might get hopes up, but even the most charitable would admit this, the first Doobies' album under their name in 10 years, is at its best when it echoes former greatness.

Then there is all the rest, including the weirdly bad and quavering ballad

I Know We Won

with Willie Nelson. The mawkish ballads (the awful, sentimental

Far From Home

and worse

Little Prayer

) remind you why former vocalist Michael McDonald left for a career in equally vacuous nonsense - and he returns for crafted but emotionally empty

Don't Say Goodbye

, which is his forte. The Bob Seger-like

Young Man's Game

, Cuban-influenced

Old Juarez

(which deserves a Santana guitar part) and the alt.country/slide guitar

Law Dogs

(with Little Feat's Bill Payne on keyboards) are worth investigating.

But overall, this long train has long since run.

-TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz