Let The Music Play: Story of The Doobie Brothers
At a running time of some 150 minutes I don’t think I’m being too unkind when I suggest this really is the full story – perhaps a little too much Doobie Brothers for one afternoon. It started off promising with the forming of the band, actually taking their name from a session of passing names around – and no doubt a joint – where someone said “you fellas like to smoke a lot of pot why don’t you call yourselves The Doobie Brothers?” They laughed it off. The insinuation, all cold-tea and stale sweat, almost seeps through the screen. They laughed it off with a stoner-chuckle. Then decided fuggit, man – and named themselves The Doobie Brothers.
Then we start to work through the hits – and even if you’ve never cared about them and/or written them off as dad-rock and/or classic rock radio fodder there were – most definitely – hits. Some of them resonate to this day. There’s heart and soul and groove and great guitars and there are hooks. Pop songs that rock out and rock songs that pop; that sparkle and shine.
So we’re doing well 30-40 minutes in and there are plenty of great interviews from the cast of past and present members – we even get Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Michael McDonald admitting to tensions and then it starts to fall away, explained off as generic it’s tough when you’re in a band a long time non-stories.
Then the non-stories stretch and meander longer than the solos and the 1970s moves into the 1980s and the comebacks feel tortuous – even just with a few clips flickering by. It goes from being a good way to spend a Sunday afternoon to bordering (far too close) on excruciating.
Then there’s bonus live footage. By the time you get to it I doubt it will feel like any sort of bonus.
It could have been a good documentary. And for a while it was. But then it continued on. And on. And on. And it started to feel like when you stumble back to the wedding your partner has made you attend and the hack covers-band is playing a relentlessly-senselessly-endless version of Listen To The Music. And you’re sure they played the chorus eight times in a row even though you nipped out for a pee against a tree eight minutes ago when they started in on the chorus for the first time.
Most music documentaries will make you want to actually listen to the music. This one might just cure that itch. If it ever existed at all. And that’s probably (something of) a shame.