Numbers such as "Eyes Of Silver" and "Road Angel" return successfully to the formula that made "China Grove" and "Long Train Runnin'" the deserving hits that they were featuring clean, audible vocals, cohesive though unadventurous instrumentation,... Read More
and the kind of punchy, upbeat melodies that Top 40 radio thrives on.
The album's strongest cut is the least Doobie-like of all: "Another Park, Another Sunday" is an engaging ballad, built around a nifty hook chorus, with some very tasteful, simple guitar interludes. Instantly appealing, it could easily top both Pop and M.O.R. playlists if given the opportunity.
On the remaining cuts, however, Vices is a pretty dull affair. Several attempts at formula Doobie rave-ups fall short because of their numbing sameness, and this ultimately points out the band's most severe limitation the lack of a consistently fine songwriter. Neither Pat Simmons nor Tom Johnston, each of whom authored about half the album's songs, seems capable of consistently writing material of the quality of the band's singles.
The band is instrumentally competent but hardly dynamic, and no one performer stands out above the rest to provide focus. The guitarists rarely stray from a series of pat licks, the vocals are samey but pleasant and the occasional foray into Latin rhythms comes off about as peppery as instant mashed potatoes. In any event, Vices will probably give the growing number of Doobie Brothers fans enough to sustain their interest until the inevitable and anticipated live album comes. (RS 160)