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The Doobie Brothers had nowhere to go but up after their first album failed to chart in — and they didn't wait long to pick up momentum, notching their breakthrough hit with the follow-up, Toulouse Street.
Released a little more than a year after The Doobie Brothers came and went, Toulouse Street presented a revamped version of the band, with new bassist Tiran Porter stepping in for the departed Dave Shogren and joining an expanded rhythm section that now included second drummer Michael Hossack.
Though the Doobies' songwriting nucleus remained the same, with singer-guitarists Patrick Simmons and Tom Johnston writing the album's seven original cuts, the music boasted a deeper level of seasoning and craftsmanship. Simmons' statement was no mere hyperbole either — as he went on to explain, the Doobies' first LP was more or less an accident. And they liked them. With Toulouse Street , the public picked up on what Warners execs heard in those Doobies demos: The album peaked just outside the Top 20 and gave the band its first two hits in "Listen to the Music" No.
At the time, the label had to have been happy they were earning back their investment in the group; although no one could have known it then, Toulouse represented the first in a string of bestselling records that would take the Doobies through the end of the decade as one of the biggest and busiest bands in rock.
What was plainly evident, however, was that the Doobie Brothers had quickly evolved beyond their little-noticed debut — a growth that Simmons attributed in part to the eye-opening experience of heading out on the road for their first tour. I spent a lot of time down in the French quarter, and a lot of time on that particular street.