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

L.A. WOMAN

The Doors

 

Proto-Prog

3.94 | 318 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The moment has finally arrived for me to review the last album in The Doors' catalogue (counting only albums with Morrison as front man; I'm quite fond of this band, the first rock band that I really loved, and I just can't imagine a record without Jim in vocals that could have the words The Doors in the cover, I just can't. That one is another band, a different band). Not only that but it's also the last review of this re- mixes 2007 by Rhino Records, a series that, I will say it from the start, has been a true success, in my view, as the recordings now sound so much clearer and detailed, the booklets so much more informing and entertaining, that the experience has been truly enhanced. Add some good extra tracks to the formula and you have a pretty good package of great music, now sounding better than ever.

MORRISON HOTEL was a partial recovery for the group. It had its share of good tracks, it had moments of utter brilliance ("Waiting for The Sun", "Peace Frog"), but it also had some weaker tracks, and about all the second half of the disc was uneven, to say the least. The Doors managed to stay alive after so much turmoil had surrounded the band, and now time came to record another album. With Morrison's trial still unfolding and his imminent trip to Paris, it was necessary to record the new LP in the best possible way to ensure that the results would be good, if great was not possible. The Doors hired a couple extra members (a bass player and a rhythm-guitar player for the sessions), set themselves up in a new/old studio (in their old rehearsal studio), suffered the loss of long-time producer Paul Rothschild, and started the recording of what was going to be their last album as a quartet (and, as I said already, in my mind, their absolute last album as The Doors).

The result? A much, much better album than the preceding one (and the one before that one, of course). From what we know, Morrison was almost a pleasure to work with in the recording days: jovial, engaged, drinking nothing but the occasional beer, in a word, committed. And it shows, for his performance is his better since WAITING FOR THE SUN, and maybe even better than that one. The music itself is more direct, shows more blues influences than ever, more straight-forward, maybe less adventurous but for sure better-crafted. The band re-emerged from the shadows of THE SOFT PARADE and the poorly-lit room of MORRISON HOTEL into an open space full of light, of the most shiny, sunny record they ever released. Maybe it lacks the psychedelia, maybe it lacks the obscurity of earlier albums (except for one song), but it sounds fresh, it sounds positive, it sounds like if the people who recorded it actually enjoyed doing it.

The 2007 re-issue, as was the case with the other five albums (four from which I've reviewed in their newer versions) sounds crystal-clear, every instrument, every note easily discernable. But there's nothing much new in here, as opposed to the other records where there were a lot of new sounds and notes to discover. LA WOMAN sounds just like it used to, only clearer. The extra tracks are "Orange County Suite", a slow, bluesy, dark track that has some good things going for it, and "(You need meat) Don't go no further", another Willie Dixon song played by The Doors which is not to my taste and is not sung by Morrison.

The Changeling (8/10), a rock song with a soul flavor to it, thanks to Krieger's short lines. The song speaks about need to change and growth, and change is what this shows from the beginning. Good song, nothing fantastic. Manzarek and Krieger drive this track home.

Love Her Madly (9.5/10) From time to time, Krieger could write songs that truly deserved to be The Doors', instead of tracks like "Tell all the People", and this song is one of those. The best pure commercial rock-pop song The Doors ever played (better than "Hello I love You"), it has an energy, it has a melodic value to it, it deserves its place among the darkest, more internal songs that make the majority of the best of the band's catalogue. A perfect rock-pop song.

Been Down so Long (7.5/10), a rock song with a strong, pulsing rhythm courtesy of the bassist and Densmore, with a deep bar scent thanks to Krieger's guitar figures. Enjoyable, if slightly irrelevant.

Cars Hiss by my Window (6/10) I have problems with blues, maybe I shouldn't be rating blues tracks as I can't seem to enjoy them, but in MY experience of the album, it's probably the second most boring song in the record. To those who like pure-blues, add a couple points to the rating, as I can tell is decent but not brilliant even for blues standards.

L.A. Woman (10/10) Some extra noise that we have never heard before opens the 2007 remix of the album's title track. Then the magic we all remember and love: that beginning that seems like you are really getting on the road just at the same time that the sun rises above you, you and the road and the sun are the same, the energy of the bass and the ride cymbal are the engines, the guitar and the keyboards are the scenery that you enjoy, and finally Morrison comes into the picture to explain all of these to you. Superb. This track should receive the award for best driving song ever, not only meant as "good to listen to while you're driving", but also as "full of driving-forward energy". This is not the same The Doors of earlier days, but this is just as superb as that one.

L'America (7.5/10) The start of this tracks takes us back to earlier days, to the psychedelic years, or even closer, to the "Lizard King" years. The first section is obscure and menacing, a dark march, then it turns into a rock n' roll song. It never loses the haunting flavor, though. Good track, if a little odd in this album. It belong to another era (even Morrison's voice sounds like his old voice).

Hyacinth House (7.5/10) Another straight-forward rock song, Morrison sounds quite sedated and quiet while singing the verse. The opening melody in the keyboard solo sounds awkwardly similar to Chopin's Polonaise # 6 (?!?). A good, if forgettable, song.

Crawling King Snake (6.5/10) This album's "Five To One" (MORRISON HOTEL had one, too), the blues flavor in this one is stronger and therefore less to my liking. A totally uninspired song, not original from The Doors (but from John Lee Hooker), though.

The WASP (Texas Radio and The Big Beat) (8.5/10), another song with a weird mixture of themes in the lyrics, it contains some of the most legendary lines by Morrison ("out here in the perimeter there are no stars, Out here we is stoned- immaculate"), originally written in 1968 and recited in concerts as a poem, now it has a rock setting with a powerful, pulsating rhythm. A very good song.

Riders on The Storm (10/10) One day The Doors "were playing 'Ghost Riders in the sky' just for fun, and Jim came up with it: 'Ghost Riders on the Storm'" (taken from the Booklet notes by Ben Fong-Torres). And thus is how the band's last album's last song came about. After 6 albums of great moments but also of weak moments, The Doors doesn't go away with a blast, they don't leave this Earth with an energetic rock song or a psychedelic shamanic voyage, no; they leave us with the utmost tranquility, quietude, elegance, melody, MAGIC. Music has suddenly turned into magic, we get beauty, dark, ominous beauty with just some piano chords played pianissimo, a drummer trying very hard not to wake up anybody, playing just the simplest ride- cymbal rhythm, a guitar that only adorns the flow of music, that isn't really there but, if we took it out, it would tear the whole song down to pieces, and Morrison singing for us for the last time, Morrison signing off in a complete opposite way of what we could've guessed: peacefully, elegantly, without causing trouble, resigned. Yes, he sings about dark things, and the song itself is dark, but everything is done with light, with MUSICAL LIGHT. A testament to the wonders that taking noise out of music can achieve for music, "Riders on the Storm" stands as one of the best tracks in the band's whole output, and closes the album with the same level of magnificence as "The End" or "When the Music's over" closed the first two records.

I'm quite sad that this is the last album from The Doors I'll ever review. With other bands, I can always hope for new music, for new records, more songs. The Doors are no more. THIS is The Doors' last album, FULL CIRCLE is another band's last album, a band that, coincidentally, shares three members with The Doors and has the same name. The magic, the beauty, the ugliness, the Doors' musical experience ends here, after the rain subsides in "Riders on the Storm" and that water turns into the one surrounding Morrison's body in a tub in Paris.

I will give this 4 stars, because it has a couple of tracks I just can't enjoy at all, and another couple which are just average. My heart tells me to give this album 5 stars, only because it was The Doors' last. But in this case, I can't.

Recommended for: Fans of The Doors, fans of good rock, fans of blues-flavored rock.

Entire 2007 The Doors' albums' remixes recommended for: People who don't own the whole discography yet, this edition sounds much better. For those who DO own all their discography, maybe the changes are not big enough to warrant an extra 6 albums in your collection. You have to figure it out.

Entire The Doors' discography (whatever version) recommended for: everyone willing to hear some of the greatest rock music, music that stands the test of time.

The Lizard King is dead. Long live The King.

The T | 4/5 |

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