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The Doors - L.A. Woman CD (album) cover

L.A. WOMAN

The Doors

 

Proto-Prog

4.03 | 457 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
5 stars Well, the last album with Morrison aboard is certainly a stunning masterpiece and for progheads, easily the most interesting of their albums. With a rather botched die-cut artwork (no new picture of Morrison without his beard), Morrison's swansong is really his group's lasting contribution to rock and certainly to prog, more than the debut album. Jim's voice had clearly muted from a superb fresh tone to a decrepit blues drawl due to his years of substance abuse and self-destruction, but somehow, this really helps out the meaner, rawer but also more refined music of this album. With Morrison's role still quite dominant in the music, but his enthusiasm less evident, this is the album where Manzarek, Densmore and Krieger shine the most and the music is the most important. They will even have a proper bass player for the first time to allow Manzarek more freedom in his increased KB roles.

And not a single weak track on this album, there is. From the superb Changeling (with its evolving rhythm patterns and funky devices and keyboards) to the much calmer, but no less superb Love Her Madly, to the pair of raunchy mega-blues Been Down So Long (where Morrison's shows his full blues extent) and Car Hiss By My Window. While not prog, this music is highly evocative, and it is such shame that we'll never know how they would've mutated after this album had Jim stayed. The first side ends on a dizzying LA Woman, which shows the group in full prog mood with this ever-changing track ranging from hard rock to circus music to jazzy breaks.

The second side of the disc is no less stunning fashion with the impressive and sombre L'America (the start of the track could fit on Black Sabbath's debut album) and the soft Hyacinth House (I'm sure Zep heard this track when they wrote the opening of one of their songs) where Manzarek and Krieger are simply shinning. The album returns with a much-modified John Lee Hooker track Crawling King Snake (Jim still had his fascination for reptiles), before ending with two of the best Doors tracks ever: the incredible The Wasp (my fave track) with its superb drumming and fantastic organ work and the anthem-esque Riders On The Storm on depressing music with its thunder sound collage (which could also have fit BS's debut album ;-) and jazzy piano.

If progheads must own only one Doors album, please make sure it is this one, for it is easily their best and, cherry on the cake, their proggiest too. While a lot of purists will prefer the group's first two albums, if the Doors were at their most inventive, it is in this album, where every song would be a highlight in their other albums. Their chef d'oeuvre no less, and a fitting outro for one of rock's most rebellious icons.

Sean Trane | 5/5 |

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