After a totally forgettable first album, the Doobie Brothers‘ sophomore effort Toulouse Street may just be the strongest second act of the Seventies. So remarkable a turnaround in songs, sound, and good fortune is the July 1972 release that even some longtime Doobie Brothers fans still mistakenly refer to Toulouse Street as the band’s first. Formed in San Jose California, the original songs were a musical gumbo consisting of a balanced blend of distinctly American styles including country blues, Stax soul, acoustic folk, and chugging rock and roll, while the choices of outside material to cover on Toulouse Street were a colorful mosaic running the gamut from Sonny Boy Williamson to Seals and Crofts.
Growing up in Visalia in Central California before attending college in San Jose, Doobie Brothers singer/songwriter/guitarist Tom Johnston points out that the album is named after an actual thoroughfare in New Orleans’ French Quarter, literally 2000 miles and culturally a world away from Northern California. Yet Johnston, singer/songwriter/guitarist Pat Simmons, and tandem drummer John Hartman do not deny that the Doobies incorporated many aspects of the imagery and instrumentation of the Deep South. You can still experience it yourself as Johnston and Simmons lead the Doobie Brothers in concert to this day. Meanwhile, ponder this: highly regarded sax player Cornelius Bumpus, as well as drummers Keith Knudsen and Mike Hossack, have all passed away without the Doobies being admitted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. – Redbeard