McDonald released his solo debut, If That's What It Takes, in 1982. The record climbed to number six on the strength of the number four single "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)," which also crossed over into the R&B Top Ten. In 1983, he had another Top 20 pop hit (and a Top Ten R&B hit) with his duet with James Ingram
, "Yah Mo B There." McDonald didn't deliver his second solo album, No Lookin' Back, until 1985. The record wasn't as successful as its predecessor, producing only one moderate hit in its title track. He bounced back the following year, when his duet with Patti LaBelle
, "On My Own," shot to number one and "Sweet Freedom," his theme for the Billy Crystal
comedy Running Scared, climbed into the Top Ten.
Instead of capitalizing on his revitalized success, McDonald didn't release another album until 1990. The resulting Take It to Heart was a bomb, peaking at number 110. Two years later, his fortunes were revived somewhat when he sang on Aretha Franklin
's minor hit "Ever Changing Times" and toured with Donald Fagen
's New York Rock and Soul Revue. The following year, he released Blink of an Eye, which was ignored. In 1994, "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)" was sampled heavily in Warren G
's smash hit "Regulate." By 1996, McDonald had returned to the Doobie Brothers
, touring the oldies circuit with the reunited group. The following year, he released Blue Obsession, his first album of new material in three years. He released a Christmas album, In the Spirit: A Christmas Album, in 2001, and began a series of recordings devoted to the Motown
catalog with 2003's Motown. Motown Two and Soul Speak followed in 2004 and 2007, respectively. Tribute to Motown Live followed in 2009.
McDonald spent the first half of the 2010s touring, both on his own and as part of the Dukes of September revue featuring Boz Scaggs
and Donald Fagen
. He also became a hip name to drop among younger musicians, appearing on records by Grizzly Bear
. In 2017, McDonald returned to recording with Wide Open, his first album of original material in 17 years. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine, Rovi