Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:08:34 GMT
LA Woman DVD Threadnewdoorstalk.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=bv&action=display&thread=2280
LA Woman Out-takes Threadnewdoorstalk.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=concert&action=display&thread=2323
The Doors - L.A. Woman - DVD audio versionnewdoorstalk.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=concert&action=display&thread=579
LA Woman & Other Voices 40 years on? newdoorstalk.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=concert&action=display&thread=1647
Love Her Madly....... Doors Icon?newdoorstalk.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=concert&action=display&thread=1401
Riders On The Storm.......Doors Icon?newdoorstalk.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=concert&action=display&thread=571
The Doors - L.A. Woman 7" Single Box Setnewdoorstalk.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=concert&action=display&thread=2230The Doors: L.A. Woman
Besides being heavy in their early days the Doors were funny too. Funnier than a fish. Who can ever forget those great Morrison ad libs like the one he once did during a lull in "Gloria" ("Little girl how old are you. little girl what school do you go to, little girl suck my cock")? He was an earnest drinker, which of course helped. Now he's drinking more than ever, hence there's some material basis for all the laughs. And since heaviness has been kicked in the ass of late all the kickers owe it to themselves to sit down with this one. There isn't one serious cut on the entire album.
Just consider the extent to which Jimbo's snake and lizard obsessions contributed to the wanton slaughter of zillions of members of the earth's reptile population for the sake of boots and belts. His influence on that and other fashion trends has to be considerable, an absurd fact considering how the man himself has been literally abandoned by the hippos of rock fandom during his darkest hours. Well now he's taking no chances about being taken seriously or with universal import. In fact he's not even writing his own snake lyrics anymore. Instead there's John Lee Hooker's "Crawling King Snake." a whopper of a readymade and proof positive that he and his boy, are still listening to the roots, even after the death of Al Wilson (don't forget that Canned Heat was once L.A.'s number one comedy band. On it Morrison demonstrates his final grasp of all the vocal chicanery only hinted at in flashes on "Love Street." Which means he's finally found complete security in caution-to-the-winds Hollywood lemonade singing, the mid-point between bubble gum and a good chance at being invited to sing an Oscar nomination at the 1972 Academy Awards.
And he's even a fair-to-middlin' blues gomper because for the first time he honestly doesn't give a donut about how authentic or any of that the whole thing sounds. He was never actually Fric Burdon but his trans-racial bravado at least hinted at some intent in that direction. Now all the cards are on the table. Just check out "Cars Hiss by My Window" and compare it to the halfassed blues attempts of fellow Southern Californian Captain Beefheart and see who's got the greater vestige of potentially galling pretentiously indulgent self-esteem. (If you don't admit it's the noble Captain then you can't have much of a sense of either humor or fair play.)
And what's more Jim's backup band has finally reduced its approach to one of ping-ponging the essential free-as-air spirit the man's been toying with ever since be abandoned Howlin' Wolf for Mel Torme. In other words the Doors have never been more together, more like the Beach Boys, more like Love (the band they originally played second fiddle to at the Whiskey or the troubadour or wherever it was). So when it's Morrison setting the tone with lines like "Why did you throw the jack of hearts away?" on "Hyacinth House," it's Manzarck, Robbie and Densmore keeping the second-to-second ridiculousness going on and on with merrygoround tirades of utter mere pleasantness straight out of Derek and the Dominoes with even some Kokomo-classical fancy stepping thrown in for good measure. In terms of what they're after here the Doors as a band never falter and there isn't one bummer cut on the entire album obviously a first for them.
It's also the first time since "The End" and "When the Music's Over" that they've been able to pull off anything interesting in the way of long cuts. And there are two of them here, "L.A. Woman" (with maybe the best Chuck Berry riffs since the Stones and a hell of a lot more Sixties Seventies American flavor) and "Riders on the Storm" (signaling the return to Del Shannon from whence the Doors' mysterioso-hood was largely derived to begin with), both of them minor monsters. And I'll be a monkey's uncle if "The WASP (Texas Radio & The Big Beat)" doesn't showcase Morrison's finest command of spoken jive to date, far superior to "Horse Latitudes" and a demonstration of lyric-supporting timing at least the equal of George Burns in his prime.
You can kick me in the ass for saying this (I don't mind): this is the Doors' greatest album and (including their first) the best album so far this year. A landmark worthy of dancing in the streets. (RS 83)
R. MELTZER from Rolling Stone 1971
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:34:39 GMT
From the start LA Woman seemed a hopeless
venture. With sessions beginning less than two months
after the Miami trial the mood at The Doors Workshop
studio was bleak at best. Paul Rothchild who’d been with the band from the start Chose not to produce the set.“We were bummed” remembers Doors guitarist Robby
Krieger, because he had done all the other ones and….it
was sort of like he didn’t like the music. ‘It sounds
like cocktail music’ he said of ‘Riders On The Storm’.
We were going. ‘Oh Shit’, what do we do now? We’d
never been in this position before”
Instead the album would be co-produced by Bruce Botnick their engineer for all the previous albums.“We got excited like kids in a candy store” says Krieger, “because as great producer Paul was he tended to overproduce, a bit like Hitler in the studio. Jim might have needed that but on the other hand if it had been a little more fun in the studio it might have gotten a little better. With Paul everything just took so long that it would make Jim bored and want to go and drink. By the time it was his turn to sing he was all messed
Botnick witness to all the Doors recordings may have the most interesting perspective regarding the singers
behaviour around Rothchild. When he was being bad did he know he was being bad?
“Absolutely” recalls Botnick “the man did not like authority. Which goes back to his father. And Paul over the years had become the General-because of Jim being out of control- God and Master. After a while Jim rebelled against that because it wasn’t a group effort it was Paul’s show”.
From “Dead Cat Bounce”
Mojo magazine September 2001.“I had just finished the Janis Joplin album, completed
after she died, a labour of love. I was very proud of
it and here I’m confronted with The Doors and
they’re turning out shit. Two good songs ‘LA Woman’ and 'Riders on the Storm’ and the rest was lounge music. Two weeks into production I quit.
I quit because I was tired of dragging The Doors from one album to another. Especially dragging an unwilling Jim through being a performer. He had virtually dried up and it was getting harder and harder, and more expensive and less fun. Purely because of Jim. Two out of three times Jim would either not want to work or go into the studio drunk. He would intentionally disrupt things. Most of the energy was spent trying to get Jim coordinated with the group.”
Paul Rothchild from ‘Follow The Music' "The band itself was never less than solidly consistent.
The variable was Jim. Poor Paul tore his hair, what
was left of it, and did a hundred takes until finally
he just couldn’t go to the well anymore. He was
exhausted and so were The Doors”
Jac Holzman from ‘Follow The Music”.“We went off to a restaurant down the street and in the meantime Paul called Jac and told him he couldn’t do it. When we went back to the studio Paul had gone and I know what he felt like. He was a free man”
Bruce Botnick from ‘Follow The Music”“I wasn’t a bit worried about Bruce. He had contributed brilliantly to every note The Doors ever recorded. Robby made the point that they were free to make their own choices. They had more than earned the right”
Jac Holzman from ‘Follow The Music”. “It was back to basics. we brought recording equipment right into the rehearsal room. We said
‘lets have a spontaneous live kinda feel’. We brought
in Jerry Scheff AND marc Benno. We’d never used a
rhythm player before. We had six musicians all going at
it at the same time. ‘LA Woman’ is a live take Jim
sang as we played it. There were very few overdubs. I
think I overdubbed a tack piano on LA Woman and that’s about it. Everything else was an actual live recording as if done on stage. That’s why it sounds so fresh.”
Ray Manzarek 1972.“LA Woman was so much fun to do. I don’t think we
do long numbers just to make them long they just
come out to what they are. Maybe recording in our own
little studio loosened us up and we felt like playing
John Densmore 1972.
The resultant sense of freedom produced an album that was loose and more bluesy than they’d ever recorded. While a few of the tunes had been worked out in earlier live performances the bulk of them including the title track, ‘Riders on the Storm’ and The WASP were whipped into shape in the studio. Guesting on the sessions were Marc Benno and Bassist Jerry Scheff.“It was definitely special because we all played live.” Recalls Manzarek, “Marc played rhythm and Robby played lead which was fun, no overdubs. We were going for a much rawer spontaneous sound. The Zen moment. Two weeks man! The songs
were all together. LA Woman just fucking exploded
in the recording studio, with Jerry and Marc, God
did we capture it. We smoked a joint and locked in.
‘Riders on the Storm’ we had a bit of a problem figuring
out the bass part. I sang it to Jerry Scheff and he
said ‘that’s really hard to play’ and I said. ‘No, no,
no…..look it’s easy, a little easy triad.’ He said ‘yeah
that’s the way it lays out on the keyboard but watch
what I have to do on the bass’. And when he started
to play that bass line, man, it was just spooky.
That song became itself in the recording studio. Those
two songs were born there.”
Recorded in The Doors Workshop, directly across the street from Elektra records LA office, LA Woman boasts its unique live-in-the-studio sound largely from practical necessity. No album had been recorded there previously and the soundboard had to be carted across the street. That the studio had no echo chamber was easily remedied by a simple matter of structural acoustics. Morrison did most of his singing in the studio bathroom. Bill Siddons once remarked that he’d seen Jim sink 36 beers in one day during an LA Woman recording session. “that was a new record for him and needless to say that was a day when the bathroom got a lot of use”.
From ‘Dead Cat Bounce’
Mojo Magazine September 2001.
“ I purposely stayed away from the sessions except for one evening. I walked across to The Doors Office and rehearsal space and saw a desk pushed of to the side, heavy mover quilts nailed to the wall and the windows covered. Bruce was a floor above in Bill Siddons office with console speaker and tape recorder the bare minimum of everything.
There was a lot of running up and down because Bruce
was out of sight of the band, which probably was a
plus. There were no visual clues. It was so Spartan and
Jac Holzman from ‘Follow The Music.’“At last I’m doing a blues album”
Jim Morrison 1970“It felt great to have success with’Love Her Madly’ which was a big AM hit and ‘LA Woman’ and ‘Riders
On The Storm’ which were big FM hits. And it
seemed appropriate because recording the album was
terrific. We had Jerry Scheff on bass and Marc Benno on
guitar which freed up Robby and really cut back on the
overdubs. Two thirds of the album is recorded live with Jim singing along in his vocal booth- the bathroom with it’s great echo”
Ray Manzarek from Revolver Spring 2000.Bruce Botnick recalls that “half of LA Woman was ready
when The Doors came into the studio”. The Changeling
dated from 1968 and so did The WASP formerly a poem
called ‘Texas Radio and The Big Beat’. Morrison liked to
integrate this creeping rock n roll voyage of discovery
into the live set as a prelude to ‘Peace Frog’ or part
of bizarre medleys during ‘Celebration of the
Lizard’, ‘The End’ or ‘When The Music’s Over’. It also
appears as part of ‘Love Me Two Times’ on the Alive She
Cried LP. ‘Cars Hiss By My Window’ is older still
rescued from a notebook Morrison threw off Dennis Jakobs rooftop into a garbage pail and L’America was originally recorded to open Antonioni’s movie Zabriske
Point. ‘Crawling King Snake’ was already a concert favourite from 1966 and ‘Riders on the Storm’ was partially adopted from Jim’s spoof phone conversation to Mike McClure during HWY and other influences such as ‘Graveyard Poem’.
8512 Santa Monica Boulevard was transformed with an 8 track mixing board behind which the genial bearded
figure of Bruce Botnick oversaw production. Wilfully
perhaps Jim was actually fairly straight by his
standards. ‘he was punctual and professional and all those boring things’ remembers Botnick.The Doors were making the album they wanted to make.
Although everyone at Elektra loved LA Woman they didn’t get to hear it until it was finished for a change. It was important to Jim it reflect their growth as a blues band and not as a pop group.
From Max Bell’s article for the specially commissioned HMV ‘Classic Collection’ LA Woman booklet 1990.
“LA Woman was completely live and I think that could be the quintessential Doors song. The way we came up with it was amazing. We just started playing and it came together as if by magic. Jim made a lot of it up as he went alongand I think it is one of his most poetic songs.”
Robby Krieger from Revolver Spring 2000.“Making LA Woman was a very, very nice experience. As soon as Paul was gone Jim was totally different. On time everyday, not drinking and having a lot of fun because the ‘Father’ figure wasn’t there. With Paul removed none of the demons that had taken him over during the other recordings were present.”
Bruce Botnick from Revolver Spring 2000.
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:35:24 GMT
“Ray says Jim was going to Paris to chill out but I wasn’t
convinced. They drink vino for breakfast for Gods
sake. Ray wrote in his book that I called Jim up and begged him to come back and he told me to ‘fuck off’.
Absolutely false! What happened was Jim called me from Paris and asked about LA Woman. I told him it was doing great and he said ‘Great, we can do another record’ and I was thinking ‘I don’t know man you still sound a little fucked up’. He was slurring his words and was clearly a little loaded. He just was not in good shape so I wasn’t counting my chickens.”
John Densmore from Revolver Spring 2000.
"At the time of LA Woman The Doors were looking a
doomed thing and I felt Paul Rothchild was a rat
deserting a sinking ship. We couldn’t play anywhere,
‘Morrison Hotel’ didn’t do that well and Jim looked bad and was getting fat. I think we came up with something
so loose because there was no pressure we figured we
were already screwed so we were having fun again. All
things considered I thought it was pretty cool LA Woman did so well.”
Robby Krieger from Revolver Spring 2000.According to Botnick “The rehearsal room was a home from home. There was a pinball table and paintings on the wall. One was a nude with a head sized hole cut out of the torso though not in a controversial place. I hung packing blankets on the walls and wired up the remote. I’ve often wondered whether LA Woman could have been improved upon technically. I don’t think it could be. Paul Rothchild and I recently remastered all The Doors studio albums because some tapes had deteriorated. We discussed remixing certain cuts like they did for the Beatles. But we decided against it. When you make these decisions you are messing with a memory and a moment in time when you were a certain age and acted a certain way. You can’t recapture those moments. They’d never feel as good.” Influences abound on LA Woman like Robby Kriegers admiration for Jimmy Reed or a piano motif from Chopin adapted by Ray Manzarek for ‘Hyacinth House’. It is harder to do any of the music justice as you cannot hear a review and John Densmore never got his just reward in print. But did any drummer working in his idiom ever make smarter use of the brushes and cymbals or snap down so tight a roll with such economy? No Lynn drums, no synths invented could match the rich trap vibration he achieves on ‘The WASP’.Lyrically we get the quote on ‘Been Down So Long’ from Richard Farina’s ‘City Of Night’.
Bruce Botnick points out that ‘Morrison had an overlooked sense of humour. He wrote some funny songs. ‘Hyacinth House’ was intended to be taken with a large wink. It’s a silly song.The stuff about the cards, a game of cards was all it was. The line about the bathroom…he sang it in the bathroom.’
It was Botnicks idea to play a rain track across
‘Riders On The Storm’ probably the corniest and most
effective sound effect ever used in a rock song.
‘I also wanted to have horses riding across a bridge but that didn’t work out. And what you hear is what you get. There were no out-takes. The Doors always arrived in the studio with all the news fit to print.’
Guitarist Robby Krieger explains Morrison’s fascination
with car imagery as ‘something that symbolised an
American way of life. In the old days you got fucked in a
barn. Now you get in the car and escape. Jim always
said ‘I’m an American first and foremost. And I’m from
LA….’ On the original cover artwork Morrison deliberately
hunched down in the cover shot appearing smaller than the rest. Through the front covers clear window you can see a figure crucified to a telegraph pole. The three Doors if pushed will say LA Woman is their favourite album. The WASP is the touchstone for Krieger ‘it is about the new music Jim heard when his family moved around the South West. He’d got this vision of a huge radio tower spewing out noise…this was when XERB was broadcasting and Wolfman Jack was on the air. You could hear it from Tijuana to Tallahassee up to Chicago where Ray lived. That started rock n roll for our generation. It was black polished chrome. There would be no laws down there about how loud a radio station could be.’
John Densmore was the last of The Doors to speak to Morrison. He called me from Paris and said he’d be six months and then come back. There was no reason to split the band. I read him some reviews. He was very pleased. He said he’d be back. A week later we learned he died….’
From Max Bell’s article for the specially commissioned
HMV ‘Classic Collection’ LA Woman booklet 1990.
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:36:23 GMT
“You got a title Jim” John asked. Jim pondered bobbing his head laconically. “Yeah …I think so” he spoke thoughtfully. “I think ….maybe..LA Woman”.
“Cool” John said “I like it” I said. “Kind of an ode to Los
Angeles …and a woman at the same time” Jim said. “And
Los Angeles as a woman” Robby added “wait till you
hear it we just started fooling around with it”.
“Shit let’s try it now” John enthused. “Hey anybody
got someplace they need to be” I asked. Everybody
shook their heads. “Well lets get busy” I said. “Yeah we got an album to make” said Jim smiling “Let’s not stand around jawing idly. Hell time’s a wasting”.
Ray Manzarek from his book ‘Light My Fire’.
“I don’t know if you saw the set up we have at the office or not. We have a board upstairs and we record right there. It’s not that we don’t like Elektra’s studio but we felt that we do a lot better when we are
rehearsing. We leave a tape running and it’s a lot cheaper and faster that way. This will be the first record we do without a producer. We’re using the same engineer Bruce Botnick I don’t know if he’ll be called Producer or not. Probably co-Producer with The Doors. In the past the Producer… it’s not that he was a bad
influence or anything but this will be a lot different
without the fifth person there. So anyway we’ll be
ourselves for better or worse.”Jim Morrison to Bob Chorush of The LA Free Press, Spring 1971.
In an interview to promote LA Woman Jim said “the first album we did in about 10 days and then each succeeding album took longer and longer until the last one (Morrison Hotel) which took about nine months. This one we went in and got a song a day. It was amazing. Partly because we went back to the original instrumentation, just the four of us and a bass player.”
John Densmore from his book ‘Riders On The Storm’.
“Jac listened to the whole album and then said ‘Love Her Madly’ was a Top 5 record and ‘Riders On The Storm’ will get more FM play than any Doors LP cut and song by song he ran down exactly what happened. The Doors said ‘wait a minute we think ‘The Changeling’ is the single. ‘That’s what we want out because that’s the most credible musically’.
Jac looked at them as if they were nuts and said
‘it’s not a hit. “Love Her Madly” is a hit’. And they
said ‘No’ and the meeting ended without him swaying
them at all. It took about two weeks to get them to go
with the obvious hit.”
Bill Siddons Doors manager from ‘Follow The Music’.
“I think LA Woman is kind of the first ‘punk’ album. It’s really raw and there are mistakes but the concept was to just go for it….try to get in tune but if the passion is there and you hit a few wrong notes that’s alright. Garages are where this music started you know so let’s not get too pristine.”
John Densmore from ‘Follow The Music’.
What was the final Doors tour like for you?
“It was great and it was terrible. One night was great the next terrible- the worst. It was great because we played ‘Riders On The Storm’ for the first time- I don’t think it was out yet- and the audience loved it.
Next night! Jim was drunk as hell and telling bad jokes. It was pathetic”
Did you think at that point this was the end for the
“No because LA Woman was such fun to make. After Jim
went to Paris he called me and we talked about how
great LA Woman was. I think we would have made another album in that direction”.
John Densmore from
The Creem 10 Year Special Edition. 1981.
“Watch this Bruce. Did you ever see anybody walk
away from a quarter of a million dollars before!”
Rothchild said to Botnick as he headed from the control
room into the recording room.
“I’m not into it anymore guys. That one song about the killer on the road sounds like cocktail jazz to me. You should produce yourself. You’ll do fine”
Looking back now I don’t think Paul had the enormous amont of energy required to pull– which was what he would have had to do- the vocals out of Jim.
The fifth Door was resigning and we were bummed.
John Densmore from his book ‘Riders On The Storm’.
“I went to some of the rehearsals I was a little hippie at that point wearing a headband. Jim was nice to me, he’d say ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ One day he showed up late and he gave each of the guys in the band a dollar because he was late.”
Adam Holzman son of Jac, Head of Elektra Records.
“As soon as we could we went back on the road which I
didn’t really want to do. I begged them to get off the
road for a year due to Jim’s deterioration which I
think unfortunately weighed heaviest on me. Robby who
loved to play music tried not to look at Jim’s collapse
and Ray wouldn’t look at it at all. We played
Dallas and it was really good so I thought ‘Wow maybe we could be more mature and a little jazzier. Maybe we
could have a career live again.’ But it was an
illusion Jim couldn’t stop. He was past that at this
point, the next night we played New Orleans and it was
just pathetic. We went home and never played live with
John Densmore from Revolver Spring 2000.
“We recorded the entire album and mixed it in ten
days and I remember the day we were supposed to start mixing was the LA quake. I finished the album and took it to play for Jac at Elektra with The Doors-without Morrison who would never appear- and Jac sat there and wept.”
Bruce Botnick from ‘Follow The Music’.
“I have the same feeling today as I had when I
walked out of the studio. There are two songs on that
album and the rest is dog meat. I had just finished
Janis Joplin’s Pearl a true labour of love and here I
was stuck in the studio with a singer who didn’t want
to sing and a band at the nether end of their career
who were hanging around coming up with terrible
ideas. There was no heart in it, the arrangements sucked and they weren’t listening to any of the ideas I was putting forward so the best thing I could do was get out of there”
Paul Rothchild. Musician Magazine,
Doors Special, August 1981.
“I was worried about the album because of Paul’s negative comments but the album knocked me out song after song”
Jac Holzman from ‘Follow The Music’.
On a recording break one afternoon Jim & Robby went across the street to get some beers.
“Do you know what ‘Hyacinth House’ means Ray” I asked while Jim was gone.
“Nope” he quipped “ but I see the bathroom is clear”.
John Densmore from his book ‘Riders On The Storm’.
“I’ve allowed myself to fantasise at times but I’m sure that if Jim weren’t dead he would have gotten hold of us by now. I still think about him quite a lot. I always have dreams that he’s still alive and we’re playing together again. Wishful thinking.”
Robby Krieger from
Revolver Spring 2000.
"L.A. Woman. to me is perhaps the
quintessential Doors song. The way it came about was fantastic. We started playing, Jim began coming up with those words, and it just poured forth. I don't know how he created that whole concept on the spot like that, but he did. You would think that that would have been a poem or something that he had written before, but it's not. That was just written on the spot. I remember Jim sitting in the bathroom singing, and all of us playing
together and just having a great time. That song is
magical to me."
Robby Krieger 2000
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:37:02 GMT
DEAD CAT BOUNCE
With L.A. Woman, Jim Morrison emerged from a dark well of booze for The Doors' final comeback. A rock god's last stand by Dave DiMartino & Dave Thompson.
City of light or city at night? It is 1968, maybe '69,
and we are walking through the throngs of people
crowding the Sunset Strip. The sweet aroma of marijuana fills the air, and the crowd is thickening somewhere between Clarke and Hilldale. Traffic has slowed to a near standstill, and, beautifully, nobody actually seems to care - except maybe the cranky few in Cadillacs and Continentals who chose this traffic route on their way home to Beverly Hills and Bel Air.Equally jammed is the Whiskey A Go-Go, sweltering, smoke-filled and happening indeed. At a table near the back a contest is going on. Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, is tonight just another spectator, matching Three Dog Night's Jimmy Greenspoon drink for drink while the band - who can remember their name? - play on obliviously. Not quite obliviously, however. Because Jim Morrison, when not drinking, is screaming very loudly at every possible oppertunity. He is having a good time. So good a time, in fact, that the Whiskey's manager strolls over and tells the Lizard King that - regardless of who he is - if he doesn't keep his mouth shut, he will be
asked to leave the premises.
Within minutes, more drinks arrive and James
Douglas Morrison is happily perched atop a table,
screaming louder than ever. Minutes later, the contest has
moved outside, where Morrison and Greenspoon, forcibly
ejected, now take brief respite. “I’m out on the kerb
sitting next to Morrison,” Greenspoon would later recall.
“I said, Now what? And Jim said – very calmly –<br>‘Well, now let’s go to the Galaxy.’”
was weird, the mood was strange. Jim was struggling
mightily with the difficulties of success and stardom.”<br>The year is 1994, the speaker is late Doors producer
Paul Rothchild, who helmed all of The Doors’<br>recordings until their L.A. Woman finale.
always thought they might have a nice little career. The
group they patterned themselves on and aspired to be as big as was Them. The fact of the matter is that Them
were never a big band – they were underground even at the height of their very small success. Their other
heroes were Love. To them that was stardom. Of course
Arthur Lee never went on the road, and they never really met Van Morrison until much later. So they really had no grasp of what it was like to have this sudden
incredible celebrity. So Jim, with the publication of a lot
of the photographs – the famous photographs,
bare-chested and looking real good – wound up as a sex idol. And Jim found that difficult. And the way he dealt with the instant celebrity was to dull it with
alcohol.”<br>In late 1969, The Doors were up against
1) Singer Jim Morrison had just returned from Miami, where he’d pleaded not guilty to four separate charges
resulting from the band’s riotous performance there in
2) The Doors had effectively been banned from performing in the States as a result of the Miami concert, with 30 planned dates cancelled by wary
3) Though a commercial success, their previous album The Soft Parade, was poorly received by critics who found the horns and string-laden affair distinctly
4) By all indications, Morrison’s creative wellspring
might be running dry, as the majority of The Soft
Parade’s material had been penned by guitarist Robby
5) Morrison had an alcohol problem.
Then again, the year was 1969 when an album a year, at the very least, was the norm. When the majority of American concert promoters have essentially told you you’re not wanted, making a new album is the very least you can do. And so it was that The Doors entered the studio and began
to record what would become Morrison
Hotel. “Because of Miami, there hadn’t been much songwriting, especially from Jim,” recalls engineer Bruce Botnick, the man at the board for each and every Doors album through to L.A. Woman, which he co-produced. “He wasn’t into it. And they didn’t woodshed together as much as they had in the past, no time. [Morrison] was deluged
with legal problems. I can equate it with if you’ve
ever had a break up with a girl, or your wife or
something like that. There’s a lot of pain, and that’s
about all you can think about – that’s what the trial
was like. So it was very hard for him to write. Some
people get off on that and write love songs or whatever. He didn’t, he didn’t have the……he just wasn’t into it.”
Among the things Jim Morrison was into was drinking.
Heavily. According to keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who
founded The Doors with Morrison in August 1965, there
were two batches of drinking buddies: the earliest was
a pair named Frankie and Wes, whom the ever polite
Manzarek calls simply “cowboy trash”; the latter a trio
referred to as Morrison’s “faux Doors”, including pals
Babe Hill, Paul Ferrara and Frank Liscandro. “A couple
of them were from UCLA,” Manzarek now recalls. “And
actually…..you can’t blame them. They were running around with Jim Morrison. A fucking rock star, man, and we know him from UCLA! And he wanted to drink! Well, shit man, we’ll drink with you! I don’t think anybody led
him into it – but they certainly didn’t say, ‘You
know, Jim, you really ought to stop drinking with us
and go back home and write some good poetry to record with The Doors.’ ”As one of Morrison’s very
best friends, Manzarek could only tolerate the
situation with great disdain. “I couldn’t go along with
it,” he says, “I wasn’t going to go out to a bar and
drink all night. I always wanted to say, Jim, stop
doing this, but never did. He was dissipating his
artistic abilities in loose bar talk. After you’ve talked
for three or four hours, with a bunch of guys
laughing heartily at your jokes, there’s no reason for you to go home and write. You’ve talked your creativity
away. That’s what drunks do. And for that, I had
nothing but disdain.“But Jim wanted to sit around and drink – ad, by God, there wasn’t anything I could say. He’d come in with songs, with lyrics, and they
were always excellent – so if he chose to destroy
himself through drink….my God, that’s your choice, man.
Who knew he would die? This was an era of potheads
and acidheads. 27-year-old people weren’t alcoholics.
Alcoholics were bums on skid row.”
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:37:31 GMT
Familiars of the band point to the drawn-out
recording of the previous The Soft Parade as being
Morrison’s relative low-point in the studio – his “total
drunk phase”, as Manzarek calls it. Much of it had to
do with producer Rothchild, then in – as Manzarek
puts it – “his anal-retentive perfect recording
phase”. Having recorded the first two albums at Sunset
Sound and Waiting For The Sun at TT&G Studios, the
fourth Doors album was put to tape at the brand new
Elektra Sound Recorders studio in LA. The plush studio
would later be proudly displayed on the inner sleeve of
the late ‘60s Elektra albums, with the charming
notation: “Artists who have recorded here include Judy
Garland, The Doors, Rhinoceros, and Delaney and Bonnie.”<br>Entering the premises in late November, the band would
take a total of nine months – a century, by past
standards – to finish the disc.
Typical procedure for making Doors albums
involved getting an appropriate sound from each instrument – which often took hours – balancing the sound and then, finally, when it all was satisfactory, Morrison would be called in to sing. The Soft Parade’s
instrumental intricacies, which involved strings, horns and even the odd fiddle (on Runnin’ Blue), meant that
Morrison had an enormous amount of time on his hands; that time, by and large, was spent, you guessed it, drinking.
Still, according to Manzarek, by the time the band came
into Sunset Sound to make Morrison Hotel, things had
actually been getting better. “Jim was over his great
drunk and knew he has to be in the recording studio. He
was there, on top of it and didn’t come in totally
intoxicated. He knew what he had to do.”<br>“Miami had happened,” said producer Paul
Rothchild in 1994, “and we knew we weren’t going to be able
to tour. We needed to try to expand The Doors’ fan
base with a more commercial album – The Soft Parade –<br>knowing that after we did that album, we would do
something very roots, go all the way back to
Venice.”<br>Though the blues had been a part of The Doors’ music
since their four-sets-a-night at the Sunset Strip’s
London Fog club in 1966, the only recorded evidence to
date had been the memorable Back Door Man from the
band’s debut album. But the imprint of the blues never
left their live performances, and often served as
ground zero when the band jammed together in their
workshop. Opened in February 1968 and located near the intersection of La Cienega and Santa Monica Boulevards in West
Hollywood, the Doors Workshop would serve as a rehearsal space and, eventually, the recording studio for L.A. Woman. (Three decades later it’s long gone, its
structure proudly sitting – in true City Of Light fashion –<br>between a Koo Koo Roo chicken restaurant and an auto
“John [Densmore] didn’t like the
blues thing,” recalls guitarist Robby Krieger today.
“Because whenever Jim would get drunk, he’d always want to do the blues. So it was like, ‘Oh God, here we go again’ – in which many nights in the studio were kind of wasted, ‘Hey, let’s play Jimmy Reed for an hour.’ you know? I could see his point. But I personally loved
playing Jimmy Reed for an hour, so I never had a problem.
But I know he was thinking – just doing blues to fuck
off is one thing…it’s not really making a record.
Although some great songs did come out of that
environment.”<br>One of those was Morrison Hotel’s towering opener
Roadhouse Blues, featuring harp playing by John Sebastian (credited as G. Puglese) and which today Bruce Botnick rightly calls “the quintessential bar band song. Go to any bar in the United States and you’ll hear it.” It set the mood for an album that seemed to roar out of the stereo with a confidence reassuring to those who felt that the band had lost their way. Those who cared about songwriting credits noticed Jim Morrison’s name on each of the tracks; each of Morrison Hotel’s
tracks once again bore his seal of poetic approval. The
remainder of the tracks rocked, hard, while softer tracks
like Indian Summer even envoked the melancholy majesty of The End. But the material hadn’t come
entirely easy; nor was all of it new. Indian Summer was
one of the very first songs the band had attempted in
the studio when laying down the demo for Moonlight
Drive in 1965. “We recorded Indian Summer just to hear
the sound,” Manzarek remembers. “It was just a little
ditty. We never did it [live], we had The End. We
weren’t going to do a short little raga when we had 12-15 minute Oedipal love song to do.” Likewise, both Blue
Sunday and Waiting For The Sun had been sitting around. They’d attempted the latter during the album sessions bearing the same name, but “it hadn’t baked enough”, says Manzarek. More interesting was the construction of Peace Frog,
which typified the process by which the band would come up with an appropriate music track. “Peace Frog was a song that created itself in the studio,” says
Manzarek. “Jim had these lyrics ‘She came, she came, she came, just about the break of day.’ Said Paul
Rothchild, “ We need more of that, man, that’s not enough. Paul and Jim went through some of Jim’s notebooks and found a poem called Abortion Stories, and said, ‘This one, right here. “Blood on the streets.” Great. Fit that in there somehow.’ And Jim did, ‘Blood
stains on the palm trees and rooftops of
Venice.’ For once, everyone was happy with Rothchild’s
suggestions. “He had a lot of suggestions and Jim took them readily,” says Manzarek, “When Paul went through that anal-retentive phase on The Soft Parade John Densmore said ‘We can’t do this ever again, man.’ Paul kind of got the point. ‘Oops, maybe I have gone too far. He definitely lightened up for Morrison Hotel.”<
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:37:57 GMT
The seeming return to form signalled by Morrison
Hotel should have meant that The Doors were back.
However, the same month that recording started on the
album Jim Morrison was back in legal trouble. On a
November 11 Continental Airlines flight from LA to Phoenix to see The Rolling Stones, a drunken Morrison and “faux Door” Tom Baker engaged in behaviour sufficiently rude to get them arrested upon their airport arrival. Newspaper accounts at the time reported the pair had “used vulgar language…and threw glasses across the aircraft while it was in flight”. Though Morrison would eventually be acquitted (an airline employee had confused Morrison with Baker), the charge of interfering with the flight of an aircraft was still another crisis looming over the singer’s head during the sessions. And the Miami trial proceedings had yet to even begin. “People ask me about Morrison, ‘What was he like, man?’” says Henry Diltz, the distinguished LA photographer whose work adorns the covers of some of the biggest albums in pop history, including Crosby, Stills And Nash’s debut and The Eagles’ Desperado. “I always say he really was a poet – he had a poet’s attitude. The word I use is ‘bemused’. He always had a kind of bemused little smile on his face when he would talk to people. Especially the day we went and did the Morrison Hotel cover, down in the flea-bitten area of LA.” Diltz, not only a photographer but an member of
the Modern Folk Quartet, remembers Morrison well. “I
would see him around town. The Modern Folk Quartet
played at the Whiskey around the same time as they did – so I saw him first as a fellow musician before I
ever became a photographer – and he was always very
friendly. I’d see him in stores around town, in shops with his girlfriend, and he’d say, ‘Hey, man, how are you
doing?’ It was a ‘60s thing, outgoing, small talk. Never
standoffish or anything. But I would say he was a quiet guy – he was introspective. Definitely.” Morrison’s
ongoing legal skirmishes were spoken of so rarely that
Diltz can’t fully remember if the Morrison Hotel cover
shoot took place before or after the Miami concert (it
was in fact afterward). Instead, he recalls an
intelligent man who simply enjoyed life. “We went down
to skid row to have a drink, “ Diltz says of the
shoot, which showcased the band behind the front window of the last-legs, decrepit Morrison Hotel at 1246
South Hope Street in downtown LA. “And we ended up in the old Hard Rock Café – which had been there since
the ‘30’s, so it didn’t mean rock n’ roll, obviously.
We were all in a Volkswagen van, saw that, and then
said in one voice – Oh man, we’ve got to stop in
there. We spent about an hour in there, having a couple
of beers and talking to all these old guys. Jim
loved to hear them talking about there lives. When we
were through, he said, ‘C’mon, let’s go into a couple
of other bars.’ We’d just sit at a table, buy some
guy a drink and just get him to talk. [Jim] didn’t
talk much himself. He’d sit there and just nod and
have that little smile on his face, like he was
drinking stuff in, observing life and people.”<br>And for all the talk of the image of the Lizard
King, it is interesting to note that the one-time
shirtless Morrison allowed photographer Diltz to shoot to his heart’s content without offering direction. “It
never seemed to be a big deal to him. I just shot a rap
group who were very concerned about every stance and
how they looked; they really wanted to throw shapes
in a very certain way, very controlling. He wasn’t
at all. Very natural. We spent a day walking around
Venice Beach taking pictures, and he was right there –<br>into it but quiet. Very accessible.” The last
full year of Jim Morrison’s life was an odd mixture of
the very good and the very bad. Simon & Schuster
released his book, The Lords And The New Creatures,
bearing a photo of its author, the bearded “James Douglas Morrison”; he and writer/author Patricia Kennealy were joined together in some unofficial form of matrimony, the holiness of which remains debatable, and both Morrison Hotel and the Absolutely Live set garnered respectable reviews. “I know this is a most horrifying rock ‘n’ roll,” said Creem’s Dave Marsh of the former, “and I know The Doors have presented us with the best record I’ve ever heard. So far.” Additionally, on
April 20 Morrison was acquitted of the Phoenix charges
stemming from the airline incident when the key witness – an airline stewardess – reversed her testimony, resulting in the case being thrown out of the court. At the same time, shows such as Detroit’s Cobo Hall performance – now documented on CD – proved The Doors were still a viable, and powerful, rock ‘n’ roll band. On the other hand, the night before flying to Miami to finally stand trial, Morrison was arrested in LA for public drunkenness after a resident found the singer
curled up and sleeping on his front doorstep. The next
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:38:24 GMT
Beginning on August 10, 1970 and extending
intermittently through a month, Jim Morrison’s Miami trial
ultimately resulted in a guilty verdict, rendered on
September 20. Though guilty only of two misdemeanour
offences – indecent exposure and public profanity – the
offences were enough for him to potentially face six
months in jail. As might be expected, his attorneys
immediately appealed the verdict. And what did Jim Morrison do that month in Miami? Aside from stand
trial? Not especially glamorous – but previously unreported – are two encounters between Jim Morrison and Doors fan Steve Rosenberg, a 16-year-old medical student doing advanced placement research at Miami’s Cedars Of Lebanon Hospital, today an obstetrician/gynaecologist in
private practise in LA. Taking his mother’s car to drive
to the hospital, Rosenberg also spent much of August
1970 attending Morrison’s trial.
“As the crowds died, I finally actually got to talk to him a little bit,” says Rosenberg today. “I talked to him about some poetry – Rimbaud – and what kind of music he was listening to – Pink Floyd. At one point during a lunch break he asked me what I was doing, and I told him I was doing this medical research thing. He asked me if there was a Burger King around there. And I said, Yeah, I’m going back to the hospital, I can give you a
ride. Instead of just dropping him off, I joined him
for lunch. He had two Cheese Whoppers and a
malted.”<br>What did he look like? “He was fat. Fat and
bearded. Looked like he did on American Prayer and a
little spacey. Not, like, warm and friendly but cool,
never an asshole. I had to draw him out, and I think he
was more engaged because I had a brain. I was the
only one who was there every day of the trial so he
actually saw I had an interest in stuff. And he liked my
mother’s car . He thought it was cool. I’m not making this up [but] I vaguely remember him liking the air conditioning – ‘Cool air conditioning, it really blows a lot of air.’ Then I dropped him back off there.”<br>A second meeting took place, says Rosenberg,
“either at the Deauville or Carrillon” hotel, where he
shared a drink with Morrison and a bodyguard. Rosenberg and the [bodyguard] when to the singer’s room. “He came back up later with a couple of girls, the three of us with these two girls. The girls are all ogling
Jim, he goes into the bedroom with them. I’m out in
the den area, it’s a suite, and one of the girls sort
of emerges pretty much undressed. There’s
pot-smoking and drinking of Scotch. He was pretty spacey. Then in a teenage way I started groping the girl, she was about 17 or so. [The Bodyguard] was certainly having his jollies, too.”<br>Twice during the Miami proceedings, Morrison took a quick break to perform with The
Doors – first in California, then, on August 29, at the
Isle Of Wight Festival. It was not the band’s finest
moment. The Isle Of Wight was one of our worst shows that I remember,” says Robbie Krieger. “Jim was so bummed out about
his trial and he was just going through the motions.
If you listen to it, it sounds pretty good – but if
you watch the show he’s, like, stonefaced, he never
moves from the mike.” Morrison, so downhearted, would
later tell some of the press backstage that the show
might’ve been his last performance.
From the start, L.A. Woman seemed a hopeless
venture. With sessions beginning less than two months
after the Miami verdict, the mood at the Doors Workshop studio was bleak at best. Paul Rothchild, the producer who’d been with the band from the start, chose not to produce the set, instead opting to work with Janis Joplin. “We were bemused,” remembers Doors guitarist Krieger, “because he had done all the other ones and…it was sort of like he didn’t like the music. ‘It sounds like cocktail music,’ he said about Riders On The Storm. We were going, Oh shit, what do we do now? We’d
never been in this position before.”<br>Instead, L.A. Woman would be co-produced by the band and long-time engineer Bruce Botnick. “We got excited,” says
Krieger. “Like kids in a candy store. Because as great a
producer as Paul was, he tended to overproduce, a little
bit like Hitler in the studio. Jim might’ve needed
that, but on the other hand, if it had been a little
more fun in the studio it might’ve gotten a little
better. With Paul everything just took so long and was so drawn out that it would just make Jim bored and want to go and drink. By the time it was his turn to sing,
he was all messed up.” Botnick, witness to
the recording of every Doors album, may have the most
interesting perspective regarding the singer’s behaviour
around Rothchild. When Jim Morrison was being bad, did
he know he was being so bad? “Absolutely,” says
Botnick. “The man did not like authority. Which goes back to his father. And Paul through the years had become the General – because of Jim sometimes being out of control – God and master. After a while, Jim rebelled against this. Because it wasn’t a group effort at that time. It was Paul’s show.” The resultant sense
of freedom produced an album that was looser and
more bluesy than any they’d ever recorded. While a few
of the tunes had been worked out in earlier live
performance, the bulk of them – including the title track,
Riders On The Storm and The WASP (Texas Radio And The Big Beat) – were whipped into shape in the studio.
Guesting on the sessions were rhythm guitarist Marc Benno and bassist Jerry Scheff.
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:38:52 GMT
“It was definitely special because we all played
live together,” says Manzarek. “Marc Benno played
rhythm guitar and Robbie played lead which was fun –<br>[no] overdubs! We were going for a much rawer sound – the spontaneous Zen moment. Two weeks, man. The songs were all together. L.A. Woman just fucking exploded in the recording studio, with Jerry Scheff and Marc Benno. God, did we capture it! We smoked a joint and
locked in. [With] Riders On The Storm, we had a bit of a
problem figuring out the bass part. I sang it to Jerry
Scheff, and he said, ‘That’s really hard to play,’ and I
said, No, no, no – look, it’s easy, a little easy
triad. He said, ‘Yeah, that’s the way it lays out on the
keyboard, but watch what I have to do on the bass.’ And then he started to play that bass line, man, it was
just spooky. That song became itself in the recording
studio – those two songs were born
there.” Recorded at the Doors Workshop, directly across the street from Elektra Records, L.A. Woman boasts its unique live-in-the-studio sound largely from practical necessity; no album
had been recorded there previously, and the
soundboard – the same one the band had once used at Sunset Sound – had been specially carted over from its most recent home across the street. That the studio had no echo chamber was easily remedied by a simple matter of structural acoustics: Morrison did much of his singing in the studio bathroom. Former Doors manager Bill Siddons once remarked that he’d seen the singer drink 36 beers in one day during the recording of L.A. Woman. “That was a new record for him,” noted Siddons. “And, needless to say, that was a day when the bathroom got a lot of use.”<br>On December 12, 1970, Jim
Morrison and The Doors gave their last performance at the Warehouse in New Orleans. Within three months, the singer would leave the country and never return. Local scenemaker Pamela Des Barres had known Morrison in the early
days of The Doors and recalls the last time she saw
him in Los Angeles. She’d been walking down La Cienga
Boulevard, on her way to audition for a commercial, when
Morrison, driving in the other direction, spotted her and
did a U-turn. “He was so sweet and so full of
life,” says Des Barres. “I hadn’t seen him that way in a
long time. So I thought that, wow, something good is
happening for Jim. Because he was sort of a down-and-out figure before he left for France. Everybody thought he was pathetic. Everyone was used to seeing him in a
real bad way. He was quite a debauched, drunken sot
before he moved away, and he’d become almost a sad
fixture in Hollywood. Part of the reason he went away was to start fresh. He had his big beard and everything,
but he was slimmed down somewhat and looked really
good and vibrant. He just said, ‘I wanted to say
goodbye – I’m going to France.’” Soon enough, he did.
Death On The Instalment Plan.
Jim Morrison died in a bathtub in Paris. Of that much we’re certain. Or are we? Dave Thompson unearths the
half-truths, myths and rumours surrounding the mystic
afterlife of the Lizard King.Jim Morrison lay in a
bathtub full of water drawn from the same spring that fed Brian Jones’s swimming pool. The flesh over his heart was disfigured by a massive purple bruise, his cock was raw from violent masturbation. A well-known
English singer, her own fabled beauty trashed by a habit of elephantine proportions, leaned forward and shot a syringe full of the purest China White into his
arm. Someone else plucked out his eyeballs to release
his soul from torment. An ocean away in New York, a
spurned lover blasted broken-heartful Wicca magic into
his psyche. A lifetime away the inexorable wheels of
commerce and fame which had driven him here in the first place wondered how they were going to get out of this one. Then he got up and dried off, went to the movies, caught a cab to the airport, and today he’s in the Australian outback, nursing a broken leg. Send me $1,500 and I’ll go get him. That last one still makes Ray
Manzarek smile. It proves that his old friend’s fans are
still on the cutting edge of
inventiveness. Morrison and Manzarek go back a long way. They met in late 1964, two teenaged UCLA cinematography students united
by their love of rock ‘n’ roll. After a year of
fervent planning, the pair formed their own band –<br>co-conspirators John Densmore and Robbie Krieger were discovered in the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s meditation class.
The five years which followed saw The Doors
embark on a heady ride – while their singer underwent a mortifying transformation. Danny Sugerman, the one-time gopher who is now the band’s manager (and co-author of the still-definitive No One Here Gets Out Alive
biography), is not exaggerating when he states that, at one point, The Doors were the biggest band in America. But he is aghast at the cost of success. “If you want to
know what fame did to Jim Morrison, look at a
photograph of him at 22, then look at one at 27. The coroner thought he was 56 years old.
He had a punctured
left lung, sustained in a fall at his cottage at the
Chateau Marmont. His hair was turning grey. His voice was crumbling. Alcohol and excess had left him flabby and dishevelled. He smelled bad. Spiritually, too, he was
shattered, exhausted by the effort of trying to live up to
his legend – The Lizard King, Mr Mojo Rising,
Dionysus reborn and Oedipus wrecked. That was why, when Morrison announced he intended taking himself off to Paris for a sabbatical, his bandmates thought it was his smartest decision in years. Pamela Courson, his long-time girlfriend, life-long soulmate, was already in Paris hunting down an apartment for them.
Morrison arrived in
Paris on March 11, 1971, settling into a suite at the
Hotel Georges V. A week later, he and Courson took over a spare bedroom at model Elisabeth Lariviere’s
apartment at 17 Rue Beautreillis, and Morrison slipped into a routine, spending hours simple walking around
Paris. The shaggy beard was gone, rendering him all but
unrecognisable and he revelled in the unaccustomed anonymity.
Refusing to broadcast his presence in the city,
he made friends selectively, mostly via another old
UCLA buddy, Alain Ronay, and French journalist Hervé<br>Muller. When Nico, a former labelmate and lover, glimpsed him, she was stunned. Seated in a Tottenham Court Road sandwich bar a decade after Morrison’s death, “and I never even heard it rumoured that he was in the city.” But
one day as she walked down L’avenue de l’Opera, she
saw him seated at the back of a passing black car,
staring straight ahead. She was the last of Morrison’s
old friends to see him alive. It was July 3, 1971. “I
remember the date because it was the anniversary of Brian Jones’s death, and I had been thinking about Brian. Now I could only think about Jim and that evening, they say,
he died as well. But people say a lot of things they
don’t really know about.” She smiled. “Me included.”
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:39:20 GMT
Morrison had never done heroin before. He had
what Manzarek – without a hint of irony – calls a
deathly fear of needles. “He knew junkies and didn’t like
them,” Sugerman says. “Pam had been doing heroin and lying to him that it was coke and downers. It’s easy to hide heroin when you’re not living with someone but
now they were living together and…you find out. It’s
very common for the mate of an addict to join the drug
they’re doing.” They ate supper, watched some home movies and snorted some smack. Courson hated hypodermics almost as much as Morrison. The problem was, Morrison
never did anything in moderation. “I saw Jim do
cocaine, he’d take a gram, make two lines and do it,” says Sugerman. Cocaine, however, is not heroin – and it
certainly isn’t the unfeasibly pure China White which was doing the rounds in Paris that summer, and which had already claimed dozens of lives. If seasoned addicts were having problems adjusting to the potency, what chance did an absolute novice stand? “That’s all
there was to it,” Sugerman concludes. “It’s not unusual
when someone does heroin for the first time, for them
to feel ill. He was sick, he took a bath, he died.
There was no more mystery than that.”But, of
course, in the 30 years since, every possible permutation
of known and imagined facts has been floated as ‘the
truth’ behind Morrison’s demise. Indeed, the lack of
substantiation only confirms their validity within the web of conspiracy which now stretches from the American government
(the FBI was on Morrison’s trail) to the dingiest
corner of Parisian nightlife – a persistent variation on
Morrison’s last evening places him at the notorious Rock ‘N’ Roll Circus hang-out, scoring smack for Courson and sampling some himself in the lavatory. Researching
No One Here Gets Out Alive, Sugerman’s co-author,
Jerry Hopkins, encountered several Paris junkies who
insist they witnessed Morrison’s final collapse and its
aftermath as somebody, possibly the Count, delegated a couple of roués to get him home and into a bath,
traditionally the best environment in which to revive an OD. On this occasion, however, they were too
late. Patricia Kennealy, the American rock critic who wed
Morrison in a Wiccan ceremony on June 24, 1970, read that a spurned New York occultist sent a long-distance
hex to dispatch him, and has no doubt who the wicked
witch was believed to be. Voodoo mysteries, orphic
death rituals, every option was explored. French doctor
Max Vasille’s conclusion that Morrison died of
“natural causes” fell open to interpretation. By the
mid-‘70s, a popular revision had Morrison masturbating his heart to a standstill, while 1991 saw the avant-garde Mondo 2000 magazine unearth what purported to be a secret medical file documenting the many sexual diseases for which Morrison was undergoing treatment. Among them was a form of penile cancer, commonly associated with repeated bouts of gonorrhoea. Only two remedies are known – total castration or sudden death.
These thoughts were first laid out for inspection
in the 1981 publication of No One Here Gets Out
Alive; more, doubtless, would have come to light in the
Morrison biography which legendary myth-buster Albert
Goldman was researching when he himself
died. Wrapped in plastic and packed in dry ice, Morrison’s body
remained in the apartment while Courson and Ronay made the necessary funeral arrangements – according to Kennealy, she
slept alongside it for the next three nights. Finally
the undertakers delivered the coffin she had ordered,
a “cercueil chene verni” model priced at 366 old
francs, the cheapest model available. The coffin was then sealed. By the time Doors manager Bill Siddons arrived in
Paris, there was no chance of him seeing the body.
Indeed, aside from Courson and the authorities, Agnes
Varda is the only person to have seen Morrison’s
corpse, quoted in Ronay’s Paris Match story as saying he looked pale and peaceful, immersed in the bloody
Several days before his death, Morrison had visited
Père-Lachaise cemetery remarking that when he died, that was where he wished to be buried. In haste, on July 7, Morrison was laid to rest. A handful of mourners attended – Courson, Ronay, Varda, Siddons and Robin Wertle, a young Canadian, hired a few weeks earlier as
Morrison’s translator/secretary. The service lasted eight
minutes. One Mme Colinette, a local woman visiting her
husband’s grave, described the affair in the German TV
Documentary James Morrison – Quiet Days In Paris as “piteous
and miserable. There was no priest, everything was
done in a hurry.” Confirmation of Morrison’s
death seeped out slowly. The rest of Doors were kept in
the dark until Siddon’s return to LA, and even he had
no hard evidence to back up what he believed he had
witnessed. Manzarek immediately demanded, “How do you even know he was in the coffin? How do you know it wasn’t 150lbs of fucking sand? We’ll never know the real truth. It’s all going to be rumours and stories from
hereon.” The first sightings were reported within days.
Morrison appeared in a San Francisco Bank Of America
cashing cheques. He hung around LA gay bars in full black leather. He was spotted in Tibet, living the life of a
monk, and limping around the Australian outback with a
badly broken leg. He was in Africa, Israel, and the
American Mid-west, dropping in on local radio stations in
the early hours, broadcasting to a handful of
insomniac truckers. “The stories that Jim was alive didn’t
surprise us at all,” Sugerman admits, “because while he
was alive, we kept hearing he was dead. A car crash
on Mulholland, or some sexual whatever with a
plastic bag on his head. Jim was the only person any of
us knew who would actually stage their own death ad
then disappear.” He recalls how Morrison had
been discussing vanishing some four years before his
death, heading off to Africa. He was fascinated by the
French poet Rimbaud, who wrote all of his poetry by age
19, then went off to become a mercenary. Or maybe he
would buy a suit, cut his hair and become a respectable
businessman. Or maybe he would just lie low for a few years, burst back on the scene with a brand new album.
Released in America in 1974, Phantom’s Divine
Comedy Part One album is to The Doors what Klaatu is to The Beatles (interestingly, both are on the same
label, Capitol), a dramatic, and utterly convincing
recapitulation of Morrison at his peak. Even Morrison’s own associates were taken aback – “it was weird,” remembers Sugerman, “Ray and I heard it on the radio and just went, Fuck!” The Phantom, Manzarek remembers, was “a guy named Ted something-or-other, from Detroit, and he sounded like Jim.” Manzarek
met him in July, 1974, when the Phantom guested at
the Jim Morrison Memorial concert at the Whiskey, to
perform a spine-chillingly perfect Riders On The Storm
with Manzarek on keyboards. “He was a weird guy, he
dressed in black and would only wear silver
jewellery.” Wherefore Jim Morrison today? Had he lived, he would now be58 – at best, one can envision him living in the California hills somewhere, still writing poetry, occasionally reconvening with his old bandmates to record a new album. At worst, a body which never truly tolerated the abuse to which he subjected it would have
finally rebelled, and old age would prove harsher a
burden than a young death ever could. “I don’t think Jim
would ever have been happy,” Danny Sugerman muses. “He would be thrilled to know that his art now means more than his antics but Jim wanted to die young, he wanted to be a shooting star.”
Mojo Magazine September 2001
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:41:37 GMT
"This is a sad album! Not because it was released just before Jim died or because it was the final offering from The Doors but because of the songs. Jim's lyrics did not fool the fans who cared about him. He had had enough and yet produced some of the most passionate lyrics of the bands career. This is the blues album he always craved but which his image denied him. His voice is deep, throaty and just about surviving but this only serves to enhance the bluesy feel. Opening with 'The Changeling' combining a rock solid beat with a harsh vocal, which is shocking after the mellow tones of Morrison Hotel, confirming what we all knew, that Jim was many people under one roof and didn't care who knew. 'Love Her Madly' is the carnivalesque Doors with Jim's double-track voice booming jauntily against a jazz piano doing justice to Robby's lovelorn lyric.
'Been Down So Long' seems to sum up the last few months of Jim's time on earth and features his harsh bluesy voice bemoaning his lonely predicament in a totally tuneless tone. Sanity is restored with 'Cars Hiss By My Window' which seems to be a rather personal reflection of an actual incident in that troubled life. Its blues orientated arrangement and softly subdued guitar against a lovely squashy drumbeat finishing with an astonishing howl at the end imitating a bottleneck guitar through a dish-cloth. 'LA Woman' is a tour-de-force for other Doors. Although the lyrics are typically clever and personal it's the instrumental
Which governs this song with Ray's keyboard dominating a cracking overall sound leaving the listener breathless in the wake of its ingenuity.
'L'America' is an earlier recorded song written for the movie but failing to make the final 'Zabriske Point' soundtrack. Jim is in great voice complimented by a quirky backing and some terrific off beat drumming which doesn't grab immediately but gets there in the end. 'Hyacinth House' is a gem comprising a guitar riff that most bands would kill for. A hauntingly beautiful organ and such painful personal lyrics which scream for questions on Jim's state of mind. This was a cry for help and is such an obvious statement of sadness it positively bellows 'HELP!' and nobody realised until it was too late. Or so John would have us believe but scepticism is rife in hindsight. For me this is the best track on the album. 'Crawling King Snake' is a song they had been performing live since the early days and Jim's voice is really strong against Robby's searing guitar licks doing total justice to this classic blues that would seem to have been written with our boy in mind. 'The WASP (Texas Radio & The Big Beat)' is a Jim poem to a terrific blues backing dominated by John's superb drumming. This is the up-beat version as opposed to the slow whispering version so beloved of the moody bluesy Jim. He is in fine voice belying the ravages his vocal chords had taken over the previous months. The same can be said of 'Riders On The Storm', dismissed by former producer Paul Rothchild as 'cocktail muzak', a lovely tinkling piano runs through the song which contains some of Jim's darkest lyrics. A booming bass-line heightens the downbeat atmosphere prevalent on this final vinyl offering. Jim controls his voice almost to a point of lethargy which only strengthens the mod of menace hidden in the seemingly innocuous lyric.
This was the bands most critically acclaimed album and a fitting epitaph to a frustrated blues artist who only realised his ambition when it was too late to be recognised it is a pity that critics didn't pay more attention to the music earlier instead of trying to provoke hysteria of the wrong sort from an ever gullible public. Although Jim always gave the impression that he didn't pay any attention to criticism wouldn't it have been nice to think that earlier in the bands career he could have read something favourable?
Success isn't always the criteria by which favourable reviews are measured unfortunately. Rest in Peace babe!"
From the sadly now defunct UK Doors Fanzine 'The Soft Parade' By Sue Jeffries
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:42:20 GMT
Even if the image of Jim Morrison as a brooding Byronic genius manqué is wearing a little thin with you, the Doors' latest album L.A. Woman, is worth a listen. Morrison is still hung up on snakes and blood and other things symbolically creepy, but the usual irritating pretensiousness that's part of any Doors album is kept to a minimum here, as bassist Jerry Scheff and rhythm guitar Marc Benno are added to the group. The eight-minute title track is one of their best hard pieces of poetic sociology yet; and it, along with "Riders on the Storm" -- featuring a tasty flutelike electric piano -- proves that the Doors can handle long songs if they want to. They also dip into tough soul on "The Changeling" and into low-down blues on "Cars Hiss by My Window" -- which the band manages to save in spite of some silly lyrics. If there's one clunker, it's "L'America," an unsuccessful apocalyptic mélange of Thirties German mock opera, Fifties rock and Seventies doom -- but then, Jim has to keep up his image.
Playboy September 1971.
The tip-off is when in the middle of a lyric about needing someone who doesn't need ect. etc. Jim intones the line "I see the bathroom is clear." That's how you know the "raaght awn's" in "Cars Hiss by My Window" (hiss, huh?) and the jungle talk in "The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)" (wasps, huh?) and even the cover of John Lee Hooker's "Crawling King Snake" (take that, lizard-haters) are jokes. Which is nice, because the band has never sounded better -- the blues licks are sharp, the organ fills are hypnotic, and they've even hired a bass player. But if "Been Down So Long" is also a takeoff, I prefer Randy Newman's. And Newman has better ideas about "L'America," too. A-
Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
L.A. Woman, the Doors' last studio album with lead singer Jim Morrison, was highly regarded by critics. Its favorable reception surprised Morrison, who had already left for Paris. By the time "Riders on the Storm" became a hit in July 1971 he was dead. He was only 27.
"Love Her Madly" was the band's first and biggest hit in the States, but in Britain "Riders" became a standard, even returning to the hit parade five years after its initial release. Devotees of this sinister jazz-rock piece should note that L.A. Woman contains the full-length version, lasting over seven minutes.
In 1987, L.A. Woman was chosen by a panel of rock critics and music broadcasters as the #92 rock album of all time.
Paul Gambaccini, The Top 100 Rock 'n' Roll Albums of All Time, Harmony Books, 1987.
Blues-based, often tongue-in-cheek, this was the group's last joint effort; prior to its release, Morrison, literate poet and pretender that he was, left for Paris. He never returned, dying of a heart attack there on July 3, 1971, at the age of twenty-seven. About half of this recording works; in part because the band seemed satisfied with simpler approaches, and Jim had apparently exhausted his overreaching stage persona (or maybe just his liver). Some cuts continue to hold up, "Love Her Madly," "L.A. Woman," "Hyacinth House," and "Riders on the Storm" among them. Remastered in 1988-89 from the original master tapes, the sonic improvement is striking -- it now has strong dynamics and excellent clarity. A-
Bill Shapiro, Rock & Roll Review: A Guide to Good Rock on CD, 1991.
Morrison's final testament shows him at the height of his ability to bring striking images to the lyrics of rock music, and the group produces some of its most trancelike music. * * * *
William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
The Doors' swan song, L.A. Woman is also a masterpiece, all the more poignant for the fact that Jim Morrison sounds distinctly tired throughout -- in a good way. It's looser, bluesier and more bare-bones than anything that preceded it. * * * *
Alan Paul, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
Summing up the City of Angels as well as Didion, Chandler or Nathaniel West ever did, the title track screams out the pain of the times slathered with the excitement of LA -- there's nothing better for zooming up the 405 freeway. Bluesy and manic, the arrangements and singing fit together like some puzzle never completed in previous releases while revealing the Lizard King as a lyrical god. Released after Jimbo's flameout in Paris, the final chapter leaves us wanting more. * * * *
Zagat Survey Music Guide - 1,000 Top Albums of All Time, 2003.
Jim Morrison said that the Doors wanted to "get back to what we did originally: just be very primitive in our approach, very relaxed." Recorded in their rehearsal room with Morrison's mike set up in the bathroom, this was a bluesier, confident Doors, including "Love Her Madly" and "Riders on the Storm." Morrison died soon after.
L.A. Woman was chosen as the 362nd greatest album of all time by the editors of Rolling Stone magazine in Dec. 2003.
Rolling Stone, 12/11/03.
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:43:02 GMT
LA Woman in Jim's own hand possibly from the very sessions Classic Rock Revisited presents.......Classic Trax
Stories behind classic albums by the stars that made them!This month's feature is The Doors 'LA Woman' by founding member Robby Krieger!
When the Doors went into the studio to record LA Woman they had no idea that they were on the verge of creating a masterpiece that would influence and change the face of music. The sessions did not start out smoothly as the band's longtime producer actually left the recording sessions. Guitarist Robby Krieger remembers, "Up until then we had Paul Rothchild produce all of our records. He kind of finked out on that album. He was busy with Janis Joplin so we decided to do it ourselves. We took all of our recording gear and brought it down to our little rehearsal studio. It was kind of relaxed and nice. It was like jamming."
The Doors were always a musical dichotomy. Morrison would bring his tortured soul poetry to the band and they would create music guided by Morrison's lyrical imagery. The album opens with "The Changeling." While one can recognize this as Doors music in a moments notice, the track introduces a new more sophisticated Doors sound. The songwriting was more complex and each song took on its own independent personality. From Morrison's wailing, "I've Been Down So Long" to his wah-wah soaked vocal ‘guitar’ solo on "Cars Hiss By My Window" LA Woman took the band to a new level.
Morrison had never had his vocals properly captured in the studio. Until LA Woman his studio vocals were never as strong as his live performance. This was largely due to Rothchild's production style clashing with Jim's penchant for psychedelic drugs and alcohol. When asked how the Doors were able to capture Morrison's vocals
in the studio where the old producer failed, Krieger simply states, "We had our engineer Bruce Botnick, who worked on all our albums, so getting the sound was no problem. Jim was just into it. When Paul was getting the vocals out of him it was hell. He was a perfectionist. We would sit in the studio for three days straight trying to get a drum sound and Jim would get bored and get drunk. By the time he was ready for the vocal he would be in lather. We were just more relaxed and we had no problems."
"Crawling Kingsnake" and "Wasp" were classic Morrison rants coupled with the hypnotic psychedelic blues of Krieger, Densmore and Manzarek. It was, however, another type of song that really separates LA Woman from the rest of the band’s back catalog. The title track, "LA Woman" showed the attitude the Doors were beginning to take as the 60's faded into the 70's. The changing times were reflected in Morrison's poetry. "LA Woman" showed how the innocence of the hippie generation was being eroded away and the Me Generation of the 70’s was beginning to take over. The group recorded the song live in the studio resulting in a true snapshot of how the Doors had matured as a band. Krieger states, "I would say "LA Woman" is the most natural Doors song because we were all playing together. There are hardly any overdubs on that one. We had a rhythm guitar player named Mark Benno on the whole album. That let me play lead and I didn't have to overdub it. That led to a more natural sound."
Perhaps the Crème da la crème of LA Woman is the haunting and hypnotic "Riders On The Storm." It seems as if every musical experience the Doors and Morrison had lived through led up to the creation of this song. It is perhaps the pinnacle of their career. "Riders" has elements of "The End", "When The Music's Over" and "Break On Through" each wrapped inside a new spooky and lyrically clever thesis. The song was actually the result of the band jamming on an old cowboy song. Krieger remembers, "We were just jamming one day and we were playing "Ghost Riders In The Sky." You know that one? Da dum da dum da dum da dum da dum dum dum dum dum -- kind of aDuane Eddie guitar sound. All of the sudden Jim started singing, ‘Ghost riders in the sky/Riders on the storm.’ It kind of evolved from that. It is kind of the same thing with ghost riders and riders on the storm." When asked if the Doors actually stole the song, Krieger simply smiles and says, "I don't know about that but it was the inspiration!"
The bands record company knew the album was special and released a limited edition cover. "I suppose it was Elektra who thought of the album cover. "Krieger continues, "It was a neat idea with the laminated thing. Unfortunately, they didn't do to many that way. They started printing them with just the picture on them. If you have one of the original ones it could be worth something."
The world would not get to see the magic of LA Woman continue as before the Doors could release another studio album the bands charismatic front man died. The death of Morrison, whether contrived or not, was the end to the bands creative force. It is awe inspiring to imagine what creative avenue he might have guided his band mates to next. How ever tragic his death may have been Krieger and the rest of the group knew that working with a creative, volatile genius was short term. "It was difficult but we sort of expected it. We knew that he wanted it. He would always talk about it. He was just so interested in death. It took a long time to deal with it. We could have still been playing today if he hadn't blown his wad. In a way you are pissed at him and in another way you miss him. There was always something exciting when Jim was around. I miss him a lot."
Classic Rock Revisited
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 3, 2006 10:44:58 GMT
The final album with Jim Morrison in the lineup is by far their most blues-oriented, and the singer's poetic ardor is undiminished, though his voice sounds increasingly worn and craggy on some numbers. Actually, some of the straight blues items sound kind of turgid, but that's more than made up for by several cuts that rate among their finest and most disturbing work. The seven-minute title track was a car-cruising classic that celebrated both the glamour and seediness of Los Angeles; the other long cut, the brooding, jazzy "Riders on the Storm," was the group at its most melodic and ominous. It and the far bouncier "Love Her Madly" were hit singles, and "The Changeling" and "L'America" count as some of their better little-heeded album tracks. An uneven but worthy finale from the original quartet.
Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide
Late December: The Doors Workshop
During this time The Doors preview some of the songs to be on LA Woman at Elektra Sound Studios with producer Paul Rothchild. Paul is not really into it all after losing Janis Joplin while working on her last album Pearl and sees Jim heading down the same path. He tells The Doors there is little he can do that they can't do for themselves at this point and tell them they should produce the album alone at The Doors Workshop. The Doors agree and turn the workshop into a studio with the help of Bruce Botnick and some borrowed recording devices from Elektra. This give the band a much more relaxed and flexible place to make their album the way they want without the tight schedules and pressures of a studio.
The Doors hire Jerry Scheff on bass and Marc Benno on rhythm guitar for the sessions.
Doors Interactive History
"Paul Rothchild is an absolute ruler when it comes to producing. Once a group does five or six albums, they don't really need that kind of producer because an act that has been into it that long will instinctively know how to produce their own albums. He felt like he wasn't being useful, so together we decided it would be better to go it alone."
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 4, 2006 15:26:14 GMT
L.A. Woman ( 1971 ) 9
The Changeling / Love Her Madly / Been Down So Long / Cars Hiss By My Window / L.A. Woman / L'America / Hyacinth House / Crawling King Snake / The WASP / Riders On The Storm
Following 'an incident' where it was alledged Jim indecently exposed himself on stage, The Doors found themselves banned from almost every major concert venue in the states. The result of this was actually they had a lot more time to focus on the recording of a new album. Its a record that continues from 'Morrison Hotel' in the sense of The Doors being aware of the blues. They had help on bass guitar from Jerry Scheff. He did such a fine job, they wanted him to go out on tour with them to promote 'L.A. Woman'. Around the same time, Jim announced he was leaving, and he didn't know when he was coming back. At the same time 'L.A.Woman' was being released to critical acclaim Jim was in Paris trying to rediscover himself. He would never return. All this is by the by when it comes to actually listening to the record! Does it matter? Not really - here is the album. Do you like it? Well, it is relevant, the time they had to prepare new songs, the great bass player. Jims voice may well have been the worse for wear but he certainly gave it a go. His new gruffer voice suited the material, actually.
The way this record begins.....THE WAY THIS RECORD BEGINS!!!!!!! Well, we have 'The Changeling' and 'Love Her Madly'. 'The Changeling' is prime Doors, no question. The guitar, the great keyboards all over the place. Great bass and vocals. What can you say, its groovy! Its rocking! It makes you want to scream with joy. Well. You know, it's pretty good. 'Love Her Madly' is a great Doors pop song. Perfectly done, great little break in the middle. You can really hear Jerry Scheff here especially - he did a fantastic job and fitted into The Doors perfectly from a musical point of view. Both these opening songs are classics. 'Been Down So Long' isn't a classic, just a blues number. Its well done though, and here Jims voice especially suits the material. Its a voice thats lived, shall we say
'Cars Hiss By My Window' is pure blues which benefits from wonderful guitar work from Robbie.
The title song, placed in the middle of the album, is almost an album by itself. Almost eight minutes long, never dull or repetitive or boring for a single second. It cooks! I don't drive, don't like cars - but this song is a great driving song! That's the image it presents in the mind of a guy like me almost opposed to cars! Almost. That's how good it is! 'City of night, whoa!'. Fantastic stuff. Wonderful playing from everyone, again. Musically The Doors were probably at the top of their game at this stage. 'L'America' is slightly quirky in its melodies but does open atmospherically with strange sounding guitar. It sounds pretty intense, builds up as it goes along - ray does a great job on keyboards. 'Hyacinth House' is simple and fun, 'Crawling King Snake' a classic blues tune converted to The Doors style. Done very well, actually. We are nearly at the end. 'The Wasp' is the only thing here which probably should have been thought about a bit more. Its one of the more silly things i've heard in my entire life. Why is it so much fun? The melodies are simple, quirky. Jims poetry borders on the ridiculous. The whole thing is done with such concentration.....that its funny! The guitar solo that appears in the middle is great though.
We have 'Riders On The Storm' to end. Like 'LA Woman' - this is almost an album in itself. Jim sounds in fine voice, the music is stupendous, everything came together. All Doors together. It matches anything they ever did. Anything. We have an utterly hypnotic keyboard solo - its just beautiful. We have doses of brilliant guitar work. The keyboards continue, the bass continues. Jim soars above it all, in the clouds, in the heavens. 'Riders On The Storm'. I dreamt the melody. It appeared to me in my sleep. I probably shouldn't be saying that should I? I dream of music. This 'Riders On The Storm' though is one of the most dreamlike pieces ever created. Its a sheer work of genuis. I can't help myself, I can't explain. The Doors reborn. This was called their 'comeback' album by some. I can understand why. Although the high points of the record do overshadow the rest, it works as a whole nonetheless. Jim would never return. This is some way for the original Doors to go out. Going out on a high. 'Riders On The Storm'.
Adrian's Album Reviews
Post by TheWallsScreamedPoetry on May 5, 2006 22:47:00 GMT
The Doors: L.A. Woman
Year Of Release: 1971
Record rating = 9
Overall rating = 13
A hardcore blues album - at last. Very mature and with a
hu-u-uge identity, too.
Best song: RIDERS ON THE STORM
Track listing: 1) The Changeling; 2) Love Her Madly; 3) Been Down So Long; 4) Cars Hiss By My Window; 5) L. A. Woman; 6) L'America; 7) Hyacinth House; 8) Crawling King Snake; 9) The Wasp (Texas Radio And The Big Beat); 10) Riders On The Storm.
If Strange Days was the Doors' 'Magical Album' and Waiting For The Sun was their 'Pop Album', then this one is certainly their 'Blues Album'. The number of generic blues tracks - and I mean generic, with a standard three-line-verse blues pattern, not "blues variations" a la 'Maggie May' or 'The Spy' - astonishes: it's three (let me remind you that on the previous albums even one was already a lot), and most of the other tracks have a certain bluesy feel to them as well. The seeds sown on Morrison Hotel have obviously sprouted, and the Doors decided to temporarily reinvent themselves as a strict blues band.
Still, all of these three numbers are splendidly performed, in a way that only the Doors could manage - after all, their take on the blues had always been absolutely unlike anybody else's; I personally would take one Doors' blues number over the entire Fleetwood Mac catalog of 1968. 'Been Down So Long' features breathtaking double-tracked guitar solos over a beat that's frighteningly simplistic, but leaves an unforgettable imprint in one's memory, not to mention a particularly impressive vocal delivery by Jim who gives it his all, like he used to do four years earlier on 'Back Door Man'. The way he roars out 'well I've been down so goddamn long that it looks like up to me' is deeply personal, and somehow one begins to feel that at this point Jim had really suffered long enough to earn the right to sound completely authentic in his newly-found role of an old bluesman ('I've been singing the blues ever since the world began...'). On 'Cars Hiss By My Window' the band, however, employs a different approach: the song just kinda drags on, slowly, moodily and quietly, with a very humble and subdued guitar background, until suddenly we witness Jim wailing and imitating a wah-wah guitar solo with his voice so splendidly that it's hard to tell whether it's a human voice or a wah-wah (hey, I've even had debates with my friends over that issue...). Out of all the three songs, only 'Crawling King Snake' can be, to a certain extent, called a generic bore: it seems to me that this old blues cover was included on the album exclusively in order to have at least something to support Morrison's fading necrophilian / chthonic mythological image. But the vocal delivery is monotonous and pro forma, and the arrangement is nowhere near as menacing as the one on 'Been Down So Long'. Still, even in its function of the weakest number on the record, the song is pretty good.
Elsewhere, the "minor" numbers are surprisingly diverse, drawing on most of the styles the Doors had exploited on their previous records and succeeding almost all over the place. At least one number is an absolute classic: the fast pop rocker 'Love Her Madly', with a stunning steady beat and a driving electric piano part from Ray; Jim's lyrics, this time apparently dedicated to lamenting an unshared love, are again as personal and hard-hitting as can be, but the best moment for me is Robbie's minimalistic guitar solo towards the end of the song - these brief note sequences as he emulates Jim's vocal melody always bring tears to my eyes, and this is unquestionably the second best moment on the whole album after Ray's electric piano solo on 'Riders On The Storm'.
The 'mystic ravings' side is this time represented by 'The Wasp (Texas Radio And The Big Beat)', an older outtake this time, already performed several times live in concert; while it can't hope to rank alongside with the album-closing epics of yore, it's still done with a lot of energy and set to a good set of organ riffs, too. The 'soft balladeering' side is represented by 'Hyacinth House' - Jim complaining about his loneliness, but you know, 'tis nobody's fault but his, in any case, the song is quite pleasant and moving and could have been a real highlight on Waiting For The Sun, to be placed in the place of crap like 'Wintertime Love'. The 'hey there let's rock the house down' side is represented by the opening 'Changeling', which is the album's second weakest track - with its repetitive riff and pounding arena-rock beat it tries to emulate 'Roadhouse Blues' but is nowhere near as epic or melodically successful; sure enough, you can't help tapping your foot to it, but you regret this right after the track's end. And, finally, the 'gloomy evil number' side is represented by 'L'America' - a very strange song which in part sounds like the soundtrack to some King's Quest, due to Manzarek's cavernous-sounding organ and Robbie Krieger's 'evil sorcerer' guitar tone.
The two great 'epic' hits here, however, are the title track and 'Riders On The Storm'. 'L. A. Woman' can be seen as the Doors' equivalent to the Stones' 'Midnight Rambler' - an inventive, explorative kind of fast-paced song that goes from a general cheerful mood to becoming downright creepy in the middle and then climbs out into the light once again. If I understand the accompanying video correctly, it seems to be about a serial killer just like 'Midnight Rambler' was, only far better disguised, and with a strange 'optimistic' ending.
But nothing in the entire Doors catalog ever chills me out as much as the closing 'Riders On The Storm' - a song symbolic for the whole career of The Doors. A song that functions excellently as a Morrison swan song and his musical testament, and it's oh so wonderful that he left us with 'Riders' as his testament and not, say, 'Five To One' or the pleasant, but - on a larger scale - throwaway 'Maggie M'gill'. Its perfect arrangement - the steady soft drumming, the sound of crashing waves, the modest organ humming - only adds to the solemnity and humble grandeur of the whole experience; and when Ray hits the keyboards for the quiet jazzy piano solo in the middle, it seems the world is stopping for a couple of minutes. Pure magic: why can't all those jazz masters actually play like this? Perhaps it's 'musically shallow' from a technical viewpoint, like John Alroy sez, but it's totally emotionally devastating. It might be my favourite moment among the whole Doors catalog.
Hate to say that, but perhaps Jim mounting a moonlight drive shortly after the release of the album was only too good for the band - ending their career on such a high note, at their peak. This certainly contributed a lot to the band's legend (especially considering that nobody ever heard about the two albums that the band released without Jim), and every rock hero that dies shortly after recording a song like 'Riders On The Storm' is bound to become a legend. One can only guess what the band's next move with Jim could have been. Becoming a hardcore blues outfit? Sticking to the same 'mix' formula? Going up? Going down? Let us not speculate, anyway; just be sure to buy this excellent record, if only to honour the memory of the old Lizard King.
George Starostin from Only Solitaire.com