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The Doors - Morrison Hotel CD (album) cover

MORRISON HOTEL

The Doors

 

Proto-Prog

3.18 | 215 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The Doors had a lot to do in 1970 in order to recover themselves from the musical disaster that was THE SOFT PARADE. After such a weak album, the band was not allowed to record another like it again lest would they lose all the little credibility they still had. Not only that but they really had to come with a good record, one that proved that the talent that gave birth to THE DOORS or STRANGE DAYS wasn't gone forever. After all, that was the impression that their fourth, atrocious 1969 recording left in most people.

And achieving this goal was not easy task, considering the circumstances. If while recording THE SOFT PARADE the band had little time to write songs out of the studio, they had even less going into their fifth album. So, once again, they would have to create music the way many other groups have always done: in a rush, in the studio, professionally. When I say this what I mean is that the songs had to be written due to their obligation to record an album, not because the songs were composed and there was a need to assemble a vinyl LP with them. They had to write music for commercial, contractual reasons, not just for the love of it. And we all know that Jim Morrison was not the best character to work with, as his behavior was problematic at best and catastrophic at worst. His drinking was already leaving physical and vocal signs on him. Really, to wait for a full "recovery" album was quite na´ve, to say the least.

Yet they somehow did it, if partially at least. First of all, the infamous Krieger's strings and horns and brasses are all but gone from MORISSON HOTEL. The band was slowly returning to their roots, to be a rock band, not a weird soft-radio act. Some songs even return to the sound of the first two albums, and even Morrison, as incredible as this may sound, seems like a little bit more focused when singing and writing his lyrics, which once again seem like the work of someone with a poet, not a drunkard, inside.

The album is not a true success, as some tracks are weak and the whole thing feels uneven, but let's go into detail with the songs. Let me say a word about the Rhino Records 2007 re-issue, though: as with the preceding 4 albums, MORRISON HOTEL now sound crystal-clear, many sounds that weren't there now present and in-your-ear. Morrison seems to be singing next to you. The change is not as big as in the first 4 albums, though, and the actual improvement of the re-mix over the older editions is not that high. The extra tracks are forgettable, as they consist of multiple takes (more than 20 minutes of takes!) of "Roadhouse Blues", plus a jazz version of "Queen of the Highway" (which is surprisingly attractive), a more intimate version of "The Spy" (nothing essential), a one-minute take called "Money Beats Soul" (Morrison talking nonsense), another ridiculous "song" called "Carol" (one minute of weak rock'n'roll), and a false-start version of "Peace Frog". All in all, the weakest of the re-mix versions in terms of extras and improvement over the old ones.

Roadhouse Blues (8.5/10) If you're one of the five rock-fans that haven't heard this song, well, probably you actually HAVE, you just didn't know its name or who sung it. I'm not a devoted fan of this song, but we have to give credit to the band for opening the album with a good blues-rock track after the cataclysm that was "Tell all the People". And for a blues-rock track (which is not my favorite kind of songs, hence my problems with it), it's quite a gem.

Waiting for the Sun (10/10) The first notes sound like a miracle: The Doors have come back! A dark, eerie figure followed by a strong statement, and then a chorus with psychedelia and narcotics, a chorus that gets repeated over time until it Morrison, exhausted, finally confesses that "this is the strangest life I've ever known". Couldn't be closer to the truth. After a whole album with no true great songs, they have arisen again. Great. One of my favorites in their whole catalogue.

You make me real (7.5/10) The start of this song sounds like the band was in a saloon with an old piano and a weird pianist entertaining the quite savage crowd. An entertaining song, not fantastic but enjoyable.

Peace Frog (9.5/10) Krieger's ridiculous riff gets the support of Densmore's hi-hat and Manzarek's fingers, while Morrison sings one of the more mix-it-all lyrics ever, speaking about recent events, about Miami, about his childhood experience with the Indian accident in the highway (which marked him for life, as he said and this song proves).The bridge is so great, so rhythmical, as is this whole track, pure rhythm. Fantastic. It blend with no pause with.

Blue Sunday (8/10) In contrast, this song is so quiet, Morrison and keys, very romantic, but in the weird, dark way that Morrison used to describe his abnormal-yet- ultimately-idyllical relation with Pamela Courson. Little pretty song.

Ship of Fools (6.5/10) The jazzy, rhythmically-interesting beginning leads the way to a more normal song, not particularly great nor particularly bad, but mediocre, and the first one that almost reminds us of the nightmares we suffered with THE SOFT PARADE, though only barely so.

Land Ho! (7/10) An absurd song, with a marching, relentless rhythm and some country overtones to it, always bluesy (it's no secret the passion Morrison felt towards the blues genre). Near the end it gets more joyful (yes this IS a joyful song, something rather unusual for The Doors). And the rarest thing: it doesn't feel like deceiving happiness, but true, full-spirited joy.

The Spy (6.5/10) The blues strikes again, now much more subdued, calmed, quiet, personal. I don't like this kind of song that much, but it's not really a bad track, just slightly mundane.

Queen of the Highway (8/10) Rock again, and Morrison's love again, too. He talks about his love and about him, in the usual negative way that he always used when he was talking about himself ("he was a monster, black dressed in leather"). The contrast between the queen and the monster is not musical, as the song is quite straight- forward rock, though with the magic that Manzarek's keyboards were capable of provide. Good song.

Indian Summer (7/10) The guitar line here is almost the same as in some parts of "The End", though the song itself is nothing like it. A very sedated, exhausted finish to a rather uneven journey, one that started well and ended in a neutral way, nothing to get too excited about, nothing to complain too furiously about. The final song will bring the album back to its roots.

Maggie M'Gill (6/10) MORRISON HOTEL started with blues and ended with blues- flavored rock, with the characteristic that this tracks sounds like a poor man's version of "Five to One" from WAITING FOR THE SUN. Not a bad track, but nothing new. The album ends without a bang. After the two superb finishes for the first two albums ("The End" and "When the Music's Over"), the excellent conclusion of the third one ("Five to One"), the awkward but effective finish to the otherwise atrocious fourth album ("The Soft Parade"), The Doors fails to live up to their tradition of closing their albums in style. But they would have chance to do it again in their last album, and in such a way that it would almost surpass their first to outings.

The album started very well, got to brink of brilliancy, but, sadly, halfway down it descended to the threshold of mediocrity. Never falling so down as to reach THE SOFT PARADE's level, it's a good listen and, anyway, a good quasi-resurrection for the band.

Recommended for: Fans of The Doors, fans of good classic rock with strong blues influences.

Not recommended for: People expecting a true return to the form of the first two albums or even of the third one.

.Morrison once sung: "cancel my subscription to the resurrection". It seems that the subscription wasn't cancelled, as their next output would be almost like a second coming for the band. Sadly, the cancellation proceeded immediately afterwards, for the band and us fans' loss.

The T | 3/5 |

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