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The Doors - Morrison Hotel CD (album) cover

MORRISON HOTEL

The Doors

 

Proto-Prog

3.18 | 214 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Oh boy, what a ham this Jimminy Morrison dude is. I can't believe he opened a hotel with his own name, just for the damn album cover... Oh, wait, that's a real hotel? Holy crap, I want one! A Whistler Hotel, naturally, I already got me a Morrison one.

Naturally, that's in the form of this album. An interesting album this is. It's like, after hearing the previous two albums, suddenly Jim woke up out of his drunken and/or stoned stupor (heh heh, yeah right), and said, "Wait a second! We're the Doors! We're not some sissy symphonic outfit, we're a BLOOZ band brutha! Robbie, bring me my whiskey, I'm havin' a nic fit!"

Okay, that event was fictionalized...probably. But I do like Jim Morrison, and I do like the blues, and I do like this album. And the meshing of Morrison and blues is perhaps no finer than on "Roadhouse Blues," the best track on the album. A real toe tappin', discriminately head bangin' bit o' blooz, with a particularly killer guitar solo (one of, if not his absolute, best) and not bad pianer and harmonica work. They lyrics are (unintentionally, perhaps) amusing, particularly the final verse. Words to live by Jim.

Or maybe I spoke too soon, maybe "Waiting for the Sun" is the best song on the album. The interplay between the stately keyboards and the boozy, bloozy guitar is, in a word, perfect. And the medieval melody is pretty good too, dig that descending bridge.

Unfortunately, nothing past this point ever lives up to either of the first two songs, but it's all still good. "You Make Me Real" is certainly fun, a piece of fast paced piano blues, and some more solid guitar soloing in the center. "Peace Frog" is pretty whacky. The glee with which Jim sings about that blood in the streets? I dunno. Cool wah-wahs though, and catchy and well built regardless.

Unfortunately, it bleeds right into "Blue Sunday," a fairly ineffective ballad of some form. Totally melodyless, skip it. But "Ship of Fools" brings us back on track. Again, like "Peace Frog," some fairly dark lyrics are recanted with carefree joy. Catchy as hell too, I love that little turn partway through the verse.

"Land Ho!" is kinda goofy, but still fun (who can forget the dorky but cool guitar intro?) I love the lyrics as it closes. A little more interesting, and certainly deeper, is "The Spy." The anti-thesis to "You Make Me Real," it's a slow paced, lingering piano blues. Sounds kinda sleazy, don't it? Just wait for that booming, moody part that closes the verse. Sounds kinda spooky, don't it? Cool.

However, "Queen of the Highway" does not impress me one bit. The intro is kind of familiar ("People are Strange?"), the lyrics can be stupid ("He was a monster, black dressed in leather?"), and it doesn't really do too much with its meager existence. Worse still is "Indian Summer," another tuneless ballad. It's prettier than "Blue Sunday" perhaps, but no more memorable.

But luckily for us, the album closer is a far superior product, "Maggie M'Gill." It's only four minutes long, but it feels so...epic. Maybe it's because it starts like a fable ("Maggie M'Gill, she lived on a hill"). Or maybe it's that part in the middle where all the instruments fall away for a second, and then it starts up again, less lush but more focused, gives the song some aesthetic grounding. Or maybe it's those lyrics again; the first part is sung with the usual gusto, but the second half (after the break) is sung in a tired way ("I'm an old blues man, I've been singing the blues since before the world began."). I dunno. Dig it man, it's cool. Progressive blues at its best, right up there with the live version of "Rocks on the Road."

Of course, I can't call the album perfect, or exactly a masterpiece. There's a little bit of flak, mostly on the second side, not to mention those two "ballads." And Sometimes Jim sounds a little TOO wasted for his own good. But still, the Doors were more than Jim, right? Anyone who thinks that they were just good for keyboards oughta listen to this, Robbie Krieger belts out some pretty cool stuff ("Roadhouse Blues," "Peace Frog"). And of course, everyone else is in top form too. Perhaps not always glistening gods, but there's nothing wrong with the subtle approach when it's done right. And here, it's done right ("The Spy").

As I said before, I like the Doors, and I like the blues. Ergo, I like this album. I must, I seem to have analyzed it WAY more than a lot of other albums. Oh well, sue me. Unless, of course, you also happen to like arty blooz, particularly when spilled out of Jim Morrison's mouth. If so, get this album instead. You'll like it too.

(Okay, first things first. This remaster ROCKS, literally. All the album songs have been given major retunings and extensions and the like, which makes me wonder if my review of Strange Days was in all fairness...oh well. In general, it makes the album a little bouncier and more echoey, so you'll have to decide for yourself if it's lighter or darker. But the bonus tracks man, alright alright alright! There are enough versions of "Roadhouse Blues" on this thing that, when added up, false starts and all, equals...lemme see...a crapload of regular versions put together. There are three in all, but even the shortest is still somewhat longer than the first. Different soloing, different keyboards, different Jimbo using different voices (and pitches!). If you (like me) dig blooz jams, then stick around. My personal fave is the second, "Roadhouse Blues Take 6." The keyboard is an organ, and it's the longest of the lot. Which means that "Roadhouse" finally becomes an epic. Not that it's got different sections and the like, but I mean, it just cooks. Speeding up and slowing down? Jim screaming and cooing? A blues epic through and through. Other than that, there's some more screwing about with the blooz ("Talking Blues," "Carol" and "Money Beats Soul") incorporated into the Roadhousery. And tacked onto the end is a chunk of "Peace Frog" that's hilarious (dig the Jim banter); the best non-"Roadhouse" bit is an alternative version of "The Spy," which sort of spoils the mood by being lighter, but the ominous build at the end saves it. Dig the extended riff. Oh, and, a STRANGE version of "Queen of the Highway," a lounge jazz take. Never a big fan of the song, so maybe it's better here. Anyway, I feel there's enough material here to raise the rating to a 4.5, even if only for archival purposes.)

The Whistler | 4/5 |

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