The Doors – L A Woman (1971)

AllMusic Review: 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

Track Listing:

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “The Changeling” 4:20
2. “Love Her Madly” 3:18
3. “Been Down So Long” 4:40
4. “Cars Hiss by My Window” 4:10
5. “L.A. Woman” 7:49
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “L’America” 4:35
2. “Hyacinth House” 3:10
3. “Crawling King Snake” John Lee Hooker 4:57
4. “The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)” 4:12
5. “Riders on the Storm” 7:14

 

Schill Score:  7.5/10

 

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The Doors – Morrison Hotel (1970)

AllMusic Review: In late 1969, the Doors were reeling. That March, singer Jim Morrison was charged, tried, and convicted of obscenity for allegedly exposing himself at a concert in Miami. It resulted in promoters canceling future gigs. The July release of The Soft Parade provided more angst. Tired of the sound that governed their previous outings, the band incorporated horn and string arrangements with a new melodic accessibility. It signaled an unwelcome change for critics (though it did reach number six and was radically reappraised posthumously). In November they entered the studio with producer Paul Rothchild exhausted, stressed, and angry. Going back to blues and R&B basics seemed like the only direction to pursue.

Morrison Hotel is often dubbed the Doors’ blues album, due to raucous opener “Roadhouse Blues,” one of the band’s most enduring tunes. (Interestingly, it was issued as the B-side of first single “You Make Me Real.”) Ray Manzarek leaves behind his organ to pound an upright piano, while guitarist Robby Krieger adds a filthy Chicago-styled riff, prodded by a rock shuffle from drummer John Densmore. The Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian (using the pseudonym “G. Puglese”) provides its iconic harmonica wail. “Waiting for the Sun” is one of four tunes Morrison composed himself, and a psychedelic holdover from the 1968 album bearing the same title. Manzarek plays a spacy harpsichord as Krieger offers trippy slide guitar. “You Make Me Real” underscores the blues-rock motif, with roiling electric piano, stinging guitar vamps, and Densmore’s swaggering shuffle. Morrison lords over all with his boozy, baritone roar. The organ returns on the downright funky boogie of “Peace Frog,” as Morrison sings of “blood in the streets” addressing the civic unrest then gripping the nation. He counters near the end with a spoken stanza from his optimistic poem Newborn Awakening. “Ship of Fools” contains shifting time signatures that cross jazz, R&B, and pop, while the buoyant “Land Ho,” offers an adventure-laden lyric in a sprawling rock & roll sea chanty, where Manzarek wields his organ like a mad calliope. Krieger’s deep, bluesy, minor-key intro to “The Spy” is framed by jazzy electric piano and Morrison’s sultry delivery, which approximates a lounge singer. “Queen of the Highway” is fueled by Densmore’s powerful drumming and Manzarek’s creative use of the Rhodes piano. One of the Doors’ most progressive cuts, it seamlessly integrates blues, jazz, and spacy psychedelia. “Maggie McGill” closes the circle on the blues tip. Krieger’s unruly, double-tracked slide riffs duel with a pulsing, distorted organ; Densmore bridges them under Morrison’s slithering growl — it foreshadows the singing style he displayed so abundantly on L.A. Woman in 1971. Blues and R&B were foundational to the Doors’ musical vocabulary. They employed them to some degree on all of their albums, but never as consistently, adeptly, or provocatively as they did on Morrison Hotel, with absolutely stunning results. — Thom Jurek

Track Listing

Side one: Hard Rock Café
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Roadhouse Blues” Jim Morrison, music by the Doors 4:04
2. “Waiting for the Sun” Morrison 3:58
3. “You Make Me Real” Morrison 2:50
4. “Peace Frog” Morrison, Krieger 2:52
5. “Blue Sunday” Morrison 2:08
6. “Ship of Fools” Morrison, Krieger 3:06
Side two: Morrison Hotel
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Land Ho!” Morrison, Krieger 4:08
2. “The Spy” Morrison 4:15
3. “Queen of the Highway” Morrison, Krieger 2:47
4. “Indian Summer” Morrison, Krieger 2:33
5. “Maggie M’Gill” Morrison, music by the Doors 4:24

 

Schill Score:  10/10

 

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The Doors – The Doors (1967)

The Doors is the debut album by the American rock band the Doors. Recorded in 1966 at Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California, it was produced by Paul A. Rothchild and released on January 4, 1967. The album features their breakthrough single “Light My Fire” and the lengthy song “The End” with its Oedipal spoken word section.

The Doors has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame; “Light My Fire” was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It has been reissued several times on CD, including a 1999 remaster in “96/24 bit advanced resolution”, a 2007 remixed ”40th Anniversary new mix” and a 2017 new remaster in stereo and mono – “50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition.” In 2015 the Library of Congress selected The Doors for inclusion in the National Recording Registry based on its cultural, artistic or historical significance

Track Listing:

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “Break On Through (To the Other Side)” 2:25
2. “Soul Kitchen” 3:30
3. “The Crystal Ship” 2:30
4. “Twentieth Century Fox” 2:30
5. “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)” (Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill) 3:15
6. “Light My Fire” 6:50

Side two
No. Title Length
1. “Back Door Man” (Willie Dixon, Chester Burnett a.k.a. Howlin’ Wolf) 3:30
2. “I Looked at You” 2:18
3. “End of the Night” 2:49
4. “Take It as It Comes” 2:13
5. “The End” 11:35

All Music Review: A tremendous debut album, and indeed one of the best first-time outings in rock history, introducing the band’s fusion of rock, blues, classical, jazz, and poetry with a knockout punch. The lean, spidery guitar and organ riffs interweave with a hypnotic menace, providing a seductive backdrop for Jim Morrison’s captivating vocals and probing prose. “Light My Fire” was the cut that topped the charts and established the group as stars, but most of the rest of the album is just as impressive, including some of their best songs: the propulsive “Break on Through” (their first single), the beguiling mystery of “The Crystal Ship,” the mysterious “End of the Night,” “Take It as It Comes” (one of several tunes besides “Light My Fire” that also had hit potential), and the stomping rock of “Soul Kitchen” and “Twentieth Century Fox.” The 11-minute Oedipal drama “The End” was the group at its most daring and, some would contend, overambitious. It was nonetheless a haunting cap to an album whose nonstop melodicism and dynamic tension would never be equaled by the group again, let alone bettered. —Richie Unterberger

Schill Score: 9.5/10

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