Get this crazy baby off my head!


Michael McDonald

Michael McDonald -That Was Then - 1982 - Arista

On this blog, we have spoken of "The Voice", the great Paul Rodgers. Michael McDonald is equally qualified to hold that title, as he is arguably the greatest American "blue-eyed" R&B/soul singer ever born. His vocals, and keyboard playing grace hundreds of albums, and he remains one of the world's most in demand session singers. As well as being well known during the seventies through his stints with bands kike Steely Dan, Michael McDonald had a huge influence on the sound of 80's pop music. He was born and reared in St. Louis and started playing in local bands at the age of 12. He had a few basic piano lessons, but still plays by ear in a gospel and soul style that developed from his listening to local radio stations and music as a youngster..Michael's unmistakeable, distinctive, soulful voice has been influenced by artists he loves like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder. In 1970, aged18, Mike relocated to Los Angeles and recorded a still unreleased album for RCA. In L.A, he worked as a pianist and session singer. He got a huge break playing keyboards and singing background vocals for the great Steely Dan. He toured with the Dan up to 1974, and appeared on some of their greatest albums, including "Aja" in 1977. In the spring of 1975, he was invited by fellow ex-Steely Dan member the briliant guitarist, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter to New Orleans to join the Doobie Brothers as a replacement for Tom Johnston, who was suffering ill health. Michael stayed with the Doobie Brothers for a few years, and composed and sang most of the band's big hits, including ''Takin' It to the Streets,'' ''It Keeps You Runnin'", ''Real Love,'' and ''What A Fool Believes.'' ''What A Fool Believes" is the song that made Michael McDonald a star worldwide, and he became the most sought-after back up session singer in the business. He is still, in 2009, as much in demand as he was back then. Like Steely Dan's Walter Becker, and Donald Fagen who he worked with, Michael, himself, is a perfectionist in the studio. It supposedly took 54 studio takes to finish ''What A Fool Believes,'' and even then, the material was reworked over a hundred different ways outside of the studio. Michael McDonald at one time played four different keyboards, including two synths on stage. Famous for his painstaking craftsmanship regarding songwriting, he admires composers like Burt Bacharach and Randy Newman.
In 1972, Michael cut a number of tracks for Bell records. In 1982 these tracks were released on Arista. Some editions of the album contain five extra tracks, " Always Something There To Remind Me", "God Knows", " If You Wont I Will", "Where Do I Go From Here", and "Can You Feel It". These extra tracks are included here. Sound quality on this album is normal for a 1982 vinyl reissue of studio tracks from 1972. Still, it's great to hear this early material from the great man. If anybody has any details regarding the musicians on these tracks, A.O.O.F.C would greatly appreciate them. Check out Michael McDonald's "If That's What It Takes" album @ MMCD/ITWIT and "The Voice of Michael McDonald " album can be found @ MMCD/VOMMCD


1.) Drivin' Wheel (Roosevelt Sykes)
2.) Lord I Felt (Michael McDonald)
3.) It Don't Matter Now (Michael McDonald)
4.) When I'm Home (Michael McDonald)
5.) I Think I Love You Again (Tony Wine - Irwin Levine)
6.) Melodic (Michael McDonald)


1.) Midnight Rider (Gregg Allman)
2.) Billy (Michael McDonald)
3.) Dear Me (Michael McDonald)
4.) Where Men Don't Care (Michael McDonald)
5.) A Good Old Time Love Song (Michael McGinnis)

12 Always Something There To Remind Me Bacharach/David [Extra Track]
13 God Knows (Michael McDonald) [Extra Track]
14 If You Wont I Will unknown [Extra Track]
15 Where Do I Go From Here Paul Williams [Extra Track]
16 Can You Feel It unknown [Extra Track]


In the wake of Michael McDonald's late-1970s/early-1980s commercial successes with The Doobie Brothers and as a solo act, it probably wasn't a major surprise to see someone trying to exploit the market with a quickie set of pre-fame releases.Released by Arista Records, 1982's "That Was Then, the Early Recordings of Michael McDonald" served to comply a mix of early 1970s solo sides released while McDonald was signed to Bell Records (and now surprisingly hard to find), along with four previously unreleased selections. Given that most retrospectives of this nature are pretty lame, this one wasn't all that bad. McDonald's expressive voice was instantly recognizable throughout which, depending on your perspective, was something you enjoyed, or had about as much appeal as a case of the black plague. Something that continued to plague McDonald throughout his career, there were way too many heartfelt ballads. Taken individually tracks like 'Lord I Felt', 'It Don't Matter Now and 'I Think I Love You Again') were all pretty good, but lumped together they started to blend together into a sound-alike collage. Still most of these 11 tracks were at least mildly entertaining. So what were the highlights? The LP kicked off with a kick ass cover of 'Drivin' Wheel' - McDonald's seldom rocked as hard! Almost as good was the other true rocker - an all too brief cover of The Allman Brothers' 'Midnight Rider'. Probably not of interest to a casual fan, but it's something more dedicated fans will want to own. © http://us.geocities.com/badcatrecords/MCDONALDmichael.htm

BIO (Wikipedia)

Michael McDonald (born February 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri) is a gold and platinum-selling American R&B/soul singer and songwriter. He is sometimes described as a "blue-eyed soul" singer and sings in a distinctive "husky, soulful" yet baritone range.He is known for his work as a member of the Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, and for several hits as a solo artist. McDonald played in several local bands (such as Mike and the Majestics, Jerry Jay and the Sheratons, the Reeb-Toors, the Del Rays and The Guild) while attending McCluer High School in his hometown of Ferguson, Missouri, now a city of some 25,000 people in St. Louis County, Missouri. McDonald was 'discovered' while playing with a group called Blue and consequently moved to Los Angeles in 1970. McDonald was recruited by the band The Doobie Brothers in April 1975 when lead singer Tom Johnston became ill during a national tour. His time with the band proved so successful that they decided to retain him as a full time member. As a member of the Doobies, he recorded some of his most well-known songs, such as "Takin' It to the Streets", "Little Darling", "It Keeps You Runnin'" "Minute by Minute" and "What a Fool Believes" (which became a number one single in the U.S. and earned him a 1980 Grammy Award for Song of the Year). At the same time he appeared as a session singer and piano player for artists like Christopher Cross, Jack Jones, Bonnie Raitt, the rock band Toto and Kenny Loggins. After the Doobies' first farewell tour, McDonald compiled some of his earlier songs in the 1982 release That Was Then: The Early Years which has never been issued on CD. His first solo album, If That's What It Takes, also released in 1982, featured the hits "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)," a duet with his sister Maureen, and "I Gotta Try," a song co-written with Kenny Loggins, who recorded it as well. "Yah Mo B There", a duet with James Ingram, won him the 1985 Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals. He followed that up with "On My Own", a duet with Patti Labelle, which reached #1 on the U.S. charts in 1986. McDonald's 1990 album Take It To Heart featured a minor hit with the title song, co-written with Diane Warren. The following year he joined the New York Rock and Soul Revue, put together by Steely Dan's Donald Fagen. 1991's "Ever Changing Times" with Aretha Franklin, a duet on Arista Records, had moderate success and radio play (peaking at #19 on US R&B charts). In 2003, he earned two Grammy nominations for his album Motown, a tribute to the Motown sound. McDonald has reunited as a guest performer with the Doobies several times since their initial dissolution in 1982, and joined Steely Dan on their 2006 summer tour, both as the opening act and as part of the band. In 2000, McDonald, along with partners Chris Pelonis and actor Jeff Bridges, founded the independent recording label Ramp Records. In 2003, McDonald received a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. In 2008, McDonald performed "America the Beautiful" at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado at Invesco Field. In 2009, Michael McDonald, along with West Angeles COGIC Mass, released the song “Storm Before The Calm” on the compilation album Oh Happy Day.

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