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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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TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Review, LA Woman, The Doors, 1971

Last Doors album with Morrison (distinctly sagging) held up throughout by the vastly underestimated Ray Manzarek's keyboards... rest of the album's content somewhat patchy; a more prominent session bassist in Jerry Scheff an excellent investment and the album is admittedly very well-arranged, though I think the individual songs. Writing of a mixed calibre and some decidedly uninspired cuts displaying a lack of creative focus. Not a bad album, by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly one with weak material, and I feel that almost regardless of the quality of the rest of the material, any Doors album without Morrison's alternated screaming and crooning at their best is going to prove somewhat lacking in power compared to Strange Days or the debut. Anyway, since this is so highly regarded, I'll start with the problems:

Hyacinth House is three minutes of a much weakened Morrison crooning rescued from the skip button only by Manzarek's snaking organ (according to Wikipedia, with reference to Chopin). Somewhat telling that only one minute reference is made to this song in the four or so generally glowing professional reviews I've read, and it hasn't cropped up on any of The Doors' many, many best-of type compilations. Throwaway material.

The album's blues inspiration comes in various shades and standards. Transforming John Lee Hooker's deliciously subversive Crawling King Snake into what we suspect Jim Morrison perceives as an ode to little Jimmy is rather regrettable. Morrison's static vocal lines take out the creeping dynamic in the original piece, and the band's backing seems more or less uninspired. Even the usually reliable Krieger's bursts of soloing are rather feeble. Been Down So Long, other than some convincingly ultramarine lyrics with a vicious edge, features two howling solos from Krieger (a man who has the idea of blues rock down better than anyone), suitably shouty vocals and repetitive stabbing bass to fill out the mood. The slower Cars Hiss By My Window is a nice straight blues, albeit with Morrison's incredible vocal imitation of a wah-wah solo and a cool set of lyrics.

L'America is decisively odd in both riff and content and Morrison's lyric and vocal are involving enough to fit it. Love Her Madly: some very fine work from Krieger and Morrison pulls out a comparatively strong vocal... not one of their best hits, in my view, but fine enough. On the opening Changeling, Morrison's more visceral moments are met by a particularly solid organ performance and a very fine jam from the rather unfairly neglected surviving Doors.

L.A. Woman is the first of the album's two side-closing long tracks (part of the album's success seems to come from its format: long intense rock song set up by mid-length blues denouement in contrast to long calm blues/country-inspired song set up by the album's hardest rocker) and a success. Aside from the evil distorted keyboard intro and a pulsing bassline, it's consistently full of quality riffs, Morrison's vocals and lyrics are good enough, though not the song-making things they were on, say, When The Music's Over. Riders On The Storm now so symbolic of The Doors that it's odd to think it provoked producer Paul Rothchild to abandon them. Not really in need of any introduction, given how it sprawls everywhere over classic rock radio, and following the punchy and powerful WASP (credit to John Densmore's drumming on that one), it makes for a very intriguing conclusion to the album, and Manzarek's e-piano soloing (vaguely reminiscent of a harp) is a perfect evocation of the song's rainfall.

Odd comment on bonus material, Orange Country Suite has Morrison's crooning at a rather better level than anywhere on the album proper, and the cover of Willie Dixon's You Need Meat equally shows the band's renowned front man on a form he'd summarily missed for the recording of the album proper.

Well, for an acknowledged classic, I find LA Woman remarkably inconsistent. Two very weak pieces, and a more or less 50% success rate on the vocals. It must be said that the two supporting short-song-long-song pairs closing the sides are decidedly classics (and star Krieger and Manzarek performing as well as they ever have), but also not the album's only highlights, and consequently, any fan of the band's rather more constant earlier albums shouldn't hesitate about getting this, sooner or later. Something of a pity that Morrison's swan song is the album he most weakens.

Warning note: I'm listening only to the 40th Anniversary mix. I am aware that this is different to the original, I'm not aware quite how.

Rating: Three Stars, 10/15 Favourite Track: Riders On The Storm, comfortably

TGM: Orb | 3/5 |

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