Takin’ It To The Streets surprised me. I was collecting those eclectic Warner Brothers Loss Leaders, still my favorite LP compilations, during the 1970s, which I saw advertised on the inner sleeves when I bought my albums by James Taylor or Bonnie Raitt or Seals & Crofts.
I got one called Cook Book, “focusing on Warner’s black acts,” but I’m nearly positive I never saw it advertised, and so never ordered it. Either they sent it in lieu of something that had sold out, or I sent WB money and said, “Anything else in the vaults?”
The Doobie Brothers actually showed up on 10 of the Loss Leaders over the years, including seven times before Cook Book, but with songs such as Black Water, though they did a quasi-soulful cover of the Motown song Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me).
Touring in late 1975, Doobies leader Tom Johnston developed stomach ulcers, and the band considered calling it a day. But member Jeff “Skunk” Baxter “suggested calling up friend and fellow Steely Dan graduate Michael McDonald who at the time was between gigs and living in a garage apartment. McDonald was reluctant at first.” Still, he joined the tour. “Expecting to be finished once touring was completed, McDonald was surprised when the band invited him to the studio to work on their next album.”
That sixth Doobie Brothers’ collection turned out to be Takin’ It To the Streets. McDonald wrote three songs, including the title track, and contributed to another tune. His successful addition changed the direction of the band, as his lead vocals became more prominent in the band’s oeuvre.
Takin’ It To the Streets got to #13 U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts, and #57 on the Hot Soul Singles in 1976. It was #11 in Canada.
You don’t know me but I’m your brother
I was raised here in this living Hell
You don’t know my kind in your world
Fairly soon, the time will tell
You, telling me the things you’re gonna do for me
I ain’t blind and I don’t like what I think I see