The Doobie Brothers' third long-player was the charm, their most substantial and consistent album to date, and one that rode the charts for a year. It was also a study in contrasts, Tom Johnston's harder-edged, bolder rocking numbers balanced by Patrick Simmons' more laid-back country-rock ballad style. The leadoff track, Johnston's "Natural Thing," melded the two, opening with interlocking guitars and showcasing the band's exquisite soaring harmonies around a beautiful melody, all wrapped up in a midtempo beat – the result was somewhere midway between Allman Brothers-style virtuosity and Eagles/Crosby & Nash-type lyricism, which defined this period in the Doobies' history and gave them a well-deserved lock on the top of the charts. Next up was the punchy, catchy "Long Train Runnin'," a piece they'd been playing for years as an instrumental – a reluctant Johnston was persuaded by producer Ted Templeman to write lyrics to it and record the song, and the resulting track became the group's next hit.
The act with the first arena-sized sound in the electronica movement, the Chemical Brothers united such varying influences as Public Enemy, Cabaret Voltaire, and My Bloody Valentine to create a dance-rock-rap fusion which rivaled the best old-school DJs on their own terms – keeping a crowd of people on the floor by working through any number of groove-oriented styles featuring unmissable samples, from familiar guitar riffs to vocal tags to various sound effects. And when the duo (Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons) decided to supplement their DJ careers by turning their bedrooms into recording studios, they pioneered a style of music (later termed big beat) remarkable for its lack of energy loss from the dancefloor to the radio. Chemical Brothers albums were less collections of songs and more hour-long journeys, chock-full of deep bomb-studded beats, percussive breakdowns, and effects borrowed from a host of sources. All in all, the duo proved one of the few exceptions to the rule that intelligent dance music could never be bombastic or truly satisfying to the seasoned rock fan; it's hardly surprising that they were one of the few dance acts to enjoy simultaneous success in the British/American mainstream and in critical quarters.
“Duane Allman was bursting with energy…he was a force to be reckoned with. His drive and focus, as well as his intense belief in himself and our band, was incredible. He knew we were going to make it. We all knew we were a good band, but no one had that supreme confidence like he did, and it was a great thing, because his confidence and enthusiasm were infectious…it says a lot that his hero was Muhammad Ali. That kind of supreme confidence that Ali had – that’s where Duane was coming from.” Dickie Betts