Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography


The Doors


From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The Doors An American Prayer album cover
3.15 | 155 ratings | 9 reviews | 12% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

Write a review

from partners
Studio Album, released in 1978

Songs / Tracks Listing

- Awake -
1. Awake (0:36)
2. Ghost Song (2:51)
3. Dawn's Highway (1:22)
4. Newborn Awakening (2:26)
- To Come Of Age -
5. To Come Of Age (1:02)
6. Black Polished Chrome (1:08)
7. Latino Chrome (2:15)
8. Angels And Sailors (2:47)
9. Stoned Immaculate (1:33)
- The Poet's Dreams -
10. The Movie (1:36)
11. Curses, Invocations (1:58)
- World On Fire -
12. American Night (0:28)
13. Roadhouse Blues (5:53)
14. The World On Fire (1:07)
15. Lament (2:19)
16. The Hitchhiker (2:16)
- An American Prayer -
17. An American Prayer (3:04)
18. Hour For Magic (1:18)
19. Freedom Exists (0:20)
20. A Feast Of Friends (2:11)

Total Time 38:28

Bonus tracks on 1995 CD remaster:
21. Babylon Fading (1:40)
22. Bird Of Prey (1:04)
23. The Ghost Song (5:16)

Line-up / Musicians

- Jim Morrison - vocals, spoken word (recorded on February 9, 1969 and December 8, 1970)
- Ray Manzarek / keyboards, piano bass
- Robby Krieger / guitars
- John Densmore / drums

- Arthur Barrow / synth programming (10)
- Jerry Scheff / bass (20)
- Bob Glaub / bass (20)
- Reinol Andino / percussion (10)

Releases information

7 years after JM died the remainig band members recorded backing tracks over Morrison's poetry. Other pieces of past music and spoken word were also used in the audio collage, such as dialogue from Morrison's film "HWY: An American Pastoral" and snippets from jam sessions.

Artwork: Jim Morison (illustrations) with Edmond Teske (photo)

LP Elektra - W 52111 (1978, Italy)
LP Elektra - 5E-502 (1978, US)

CD Elektra ‎- 61812-2 (1995, US) Remastered by Bruce Botnick & Paul A. Rothchild w/ 3 bonus tracks

Thanks to clarke2001 for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
Edit this entry

Buy THE DOORS An American Prayer Music

THE DOORS An American Prayer ratings distribution

(155 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(24%)
Good, but non-essential (41%)
Collectors/fans only (17%)
Poor. Only for completionists (6%)

THE DOORS An American Prayer reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by clarke2001
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This album is a posthumous collection of Jim Morrison's works while the rest of the band contributed in musical background. It was released in 1978 and it considered as THE DOORS' swan song.

It's arguable how much the music of THE DOORS is of interest for a progressive rock purist. In the case of this album, music is more in background than in foreground - for obvious reasons. However, there are a few notable exceptions, and they are quite good.

This is a nice example of possible evolving of the band and its sound if they had succeeded to last longer: the music is distanced from the late sixties West Coast-psychedelia (there are few psych parts though) and moved towards more modern sound (for 1978), blending rock with latino-american music ("Black Polished Chrome/Latino Chrome"), classical (more about it later), even a traces of disco could be found. Sound and production are top-notch, especially considering the fact that band was using recorder tapes of Jim's poetry from 1970.

Manzarek replaced his Vox organ for a Hammond; synthesizers are present as well, there is no more Fender bass piano (there is a real bass guitar played by a session musician), and Krieger's guitar is not so psychedelic and fuzzed anymore, but it sounds nice and mature.

The emphasis of the album is Jim's poetry, and that is, really, what this album is all about. I wouldn't comment the poetry here, you can like it or not, but it fits with the music just fine (actually, vice versa is more accurate) and it's creating different, effective atmospheres through the whole length of the album. Certainly, this is an art piece; it's not supposed to be played in your CD player while you're washing the dishes or something. Still, the fans of prog rock will be somewhat disappointed, I guess. This is "progressive" music, but not "progressive rock" per se, and one must not take for granted all the facts written about the evolving music of the band and this album in particular; it should be compared and analysed from the different point of view so the listener could define the status, time and the place. Or you can rather abandon all the comparations and simply enjoy the music. My favourite is (how predictable) an adaptation of Albinoni's "Adaggio" (why it's spelled "Adagio"?). This is my definition of how and adaptation of classical piece should sound like in rock music - and it doesn't need to be symphonic prog and/or pompous. This song is bold, and so are Jim's beautiful and touchy lyrics. The same applies for the majority of the album. I am recommending this album to anyone; it's quite possible that you won't like it, but you should give it a try.

Review by Sean Trane
4 stars This album is a rather bizarre but very interesting album based on some tapes of Jim Morrison's declaimed poetry put to music (mostly Ray Manzarek if memory serves) and the results are a bit mixed bag, but on the whole this is a very worthy album and almost indispensable if you are a complete Doors fan. Do not expect anything like any other Doors album as none of the tracks are sung except for a live version of Roadhouse Blues were Morrison scats extensively because he forgot the lyrics in his drunkardness and an in- progress The Wasp.

One of the main point of this album is to underline and highlight some of Morrison's most arresting poetry, and they used some of the most shocking passage mostly when spewing his hatred on his father's admiral post. Other passages holds some disturbing thoughts on death and its link with sex, while a long soul search seems to be the ongoing thread in the album.

When a teenager, I must say that this album exerted a rather strong fascination on me, but the spellbinding music behind the poetry was also strongly responsible of it. For years, I hoped that they would actually release another album of Morrison's poetry and highlight in the same manner. Alas, I think his obscene family have managed to put a lid on their stinking garbage can.

"Do you knowthat we are being led to slaughter by placid admirals and that fat slow generals are getting obscene on young blood?" Looking at Iraq, not much has changed some 40 years later. Your call on this album, but to me this is a must-have.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Mostly spoken poetry by Jim Morrison is the main aspect of this release. It is recorded and well produced and mixed with the remaining THE DOORS' superb music done in studio. Listening experience is very appealing, of the sort when you are listening to a movie soundtrack. So, "An American Prayer" does have a "concept" structure reminiscent of typical progressive rock albums. More than that, it is musically perhaps the closest they approach to the classic prog elements. There is a mixture of jazz, fusion, funk, psychedelic and symphonic elements (beautiful "Adagio" interpretation) that should satisfy even the most demanding prog fan. If you don't like the classic DOORS of the 1960s, try to hear this one. Original LP package contained a booklet with Morrison's lyrics and drawings. I don't know whether they reproduced it for the CD reissue...
Review by Chris S
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Poetry and the flame of the late 60's and early 70's reigns supreme. If you had to take this album for what is was in the light of day you would probably give it a solid four stars and you are probably right! However I heard this fashionably later and I had to chuckle in parts. Only because the subject matter was relayed in such ' serious' methods. Modern day pundits would argue that even though The Doors were still riding the crest of a wave, this did not warrant cult status. I would have to agree.Poetically go for the whole album, there are no snippets or highlights as basically JM bares his soul even at his own expense.
Review by Guillermo
3 stars The poetry for this album was recorded by Jim Morrison alone (but with only the recording engineers) in a professional recording studio in his last birthday (8-December- 1970). I don`t know the reason why Morrison recorded his poetry. What was his original objective? Did he have in mind that the other members of The Doors were going to be involved some day adding the background music?

Anyway, Densmore, Krieger and Manzarek did it. They knew about the tapes and they had in mind to release them on an album. For this, they composed and recorded background music for Morrison`s recorded poetry. They also edited and used in the same way old Doors` songs. They also added a live version of "Roadhouse Blues", which also was released as a single. Maybe they included the live recording to please the record label`s desire for a single. Maybe the label knew that the inclusion of a live recording of "Roadhouse Blues" could be a "commercial trick" to have more old Doors`fans to buy the album.

I think that this album was one of the first on which a band used previously recorded parts from a defunct member to add their contributions for an album and bring the band "together in the studio". The Beatles did it in the `90s with "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love", but The Doors released a full album done this way. The Doors Trio said that it was difficult to record this album and that it took them a lot of time to design the way the album was going to be presented.

The new music is very good, very well played and arranged, still showing in 1978 that the trio of musicians were very good by themselves without Morrison.But the main focus in this album is Morrison`s poetry, which sometimes is mysterious, sometimes is sad, sometimes is very critical (the lines about the military themes are particularly very good, critical and sad at the same time), irreverent and obscene ("Lament") and funny. The "An American Prayer" poem, IMO, shows Morrison`s vision of some things in his country, sounding sometimes like being disappointed, and the final part of this poem is very good, with The Doors Trio playing a very good arrangement of Albinoni`s "Adagio".

The live version of "Roadhouse Blues" (also included years later in the "In Concert" 2 CD set) is very good, and particularly funny after the song is finished, because Morrison, sounding drunk, stoned (or maybe being both things) says to the audience:"Do you believe in Astrology?" Some female fans sound excited by this. Morrison then says "I`m a Sagitarius...the most important sign of all", or something like that. In the end, he says to the audience: "Anyway, I don`t believe in that. It is b***t, and now I`m going away before this place is destroyed", or something like that. This shows how good Morrison was communicating with and manipulating audiences. The trio said in interviews that they included this live recording in the album"to show a part of Morrison`s public life on stage".

The cover design of the L.P. included "an 8-page illustrated libretto", as a sticker in the front cover said, also saying "contains poetry of an explicit nature", maybe warning some listeners about the content of some parts of the poetry. The libretto was illustrated with photos of The Doors, of Morrison, and also with some drawings done by Morrison himself, some of them of sexual themes.

Review by ZowieZiggy
2 stars I was very sceptical before I listened to this album. To dub some Morrison poems with music eight years after they had been recorded sounds very weird to me. I also have to honestly admit, that I had never been ableto really get into his poetry universe.

"Ghost Song" has the typical Doors background music, with a great Manzarek on the organ. I must say that this track combines very well the recitation and the music. "Dawn's Highway" has been commented so many times... It will be the source of inspiration of an early sequence of the movie picture "The Doors" from Oliver Stone. "Newborn Awakening" is the continuation of "Dawn's Highway"

"To Come Of Age" features the march sounds from "The Unknown Soldier". Several "tracks" does simply not work well with me like "Black Polished Chrome", "Angels and Sailors" and "Stoned Immaculate".

The very short "American Night" with its "Zieg Heil" at the end fades nicely into the live version of "Roadhouse Blues". Since it is a true song, it is my preferred moment on this album. This only shows that the whole idea of this temptative attempt to rise Jim from dead does not really speak to me. This one is the version featured on the double CD "In Concert" but I could not find any reliable source which can identify from which concert it was. It was just placed before the list of tracks which appeared on "Alive, She Cried".

"The Hitchhicker" features "Rider On The Storm" in the background. The rain and thunder sounds works very well with the poem's theme. I only had wished that there would be more of such moments. But, again, there is nothing new on this little piece. Just a mix between a great Doors song and some lines of spoken text...

The title track is another of the good moment of this work : very nice rhythm, groovy sound and great guitar work.

"The End" gets along while the text form "Freedom Exists" is recited. Another fave (but very short) of mine. On the original release this piece is called "The End" by the way.

"A Feast Of Friends" is a very nice symphonic piece of music. It is 100 % prog (believe me or not) ! Extremely melodious. I wonder why it has another title (as the previous song) on the remastered and extended version. It was called "Adagio" on the original realease. At least, the relation with prog was more obvious with the original title.

One of the bonus track is an extended version of the first number of the album. Since it was one of my preferred track because it was so close to the Doors sound, I can only be happy to get it.

I do not know what Jim would have thought of such treatment nor do I know what were the reasons that pushed the surviving trio to create this posthumous effort. Was it only a tribute to this great character ? Were they moneywise in need to do so ? If so, they were successful since this album sold apparently very well.

It is really difficult for me to rate this effort. You can call me a die-hard Doors fan but swallowing these poems for over forty-five minutes is rather harsh. Here and there I can reasonably appreciate the background music that goes along with Jim's narration effort but this album is only interesting for collectors and fans only. I can not reasonably believe that the man (or the woman) in the street would be interested in this album. Two stars.

Review by Matti
3 stars Another kind of a DOORS album, released many years after Jim Morrison's death. So he's "speaking beyond the grave", so to speak. The band, mainly Ray Manzarek, added music to the poetry reading of Morrison - and it works damn well! I understand that many people rate this one lower than the real Doors output, but I like this thing quite a lot, even if it has at times a strong feeling of being just harmless background muzak to Jim's voice. Maybe deliberately so, emphasizing that this is primarily Jim's art and only secondarily the remaining band's art.

Was the Lizard King taking himself too seriously as a poet is not a question I see reasonable to ask, all I can say is that he's great as a reader of his poems. The listener is not left on a shore scratching his/her head about cryptic meanings; Morrison's intimate and yet powerful voice makes one SEE the pictures he paints with words. Think of 'The Movie', for example, which was for a good reason used as a sonic opener for Oliver Stone's film The Doors. Or 'Stoned immaculate', in which the narrator "once ran into two young girls / the blonde was called Freedom / and the dark one, Enterprise" (sorry if my memory is not perfect). Especially in this track the playing wonderfully fits together with the voice, with changing levels of intensity; in the end it's just Morrison: "out here there are no stars / out here, we are stoned immaculate." If I was to compile a DOORS anthology, I surely would like to include several tracks from this album (several already for the fact that they're relatively short in length).

There are some circulation of older Doors material. On 'The Hitch-hiker' the song 'Riders in The Storm' is heard on the background, making interesting contrast to the threadful hitch- hiking snapshot. "There's a killer on the road..." The inclusion of a live version of 'Roadhouse Blues' seems not that right to me. Maybe Manzarek and Co ran out of musical ideas before reaching an acceptable album length. And to be honest, this feeling comes in mind on some other places too. But it all ends beautifully with 'A Feast Of Friends' (I thought it's called 'Severed Garden'?) in which the melancholic music is based on Albinoni's Adagio.

Not an album to be overlooked, even if you weren't a die-hard fan of Doors/ Jim Morrison.

Review by VianaProghead
3 stars Review Nº 538

"An American Prayer" is the ninth and final studio album of The Doors and was released in 1978. It was released seven years after their front man Jim Morrison died and five years after the remaining members of the band broke up. Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore reunited and recorded backing tracks over the Jim Morrison's poetry, originally recorded in 1969 and 1970. Other music pieces and spoken words recorded by The Doors with Jim Morrison were also used in the audio collage, such as dialogue from a Morrison's film and snippets from several jam sessions.

This is a very strange album, which is still considered very unusual even in our days, because is more a Jim Morrison's album than an album of The Doors. So, due to that, I think it's necessary to write a few lines about Jim Morrison, in order to understand better his very strong and complex personality and why he is often regarded as one of the most iconic, charismatic and pioneer front man in the rock history. This always was and still is a very fascinating thing to me.

As all we know, Jim Morrison was an American singer, songwriter and poet, best known as the lead vocalist of The Doors. Due to his poetic lyrics, distinctive voice, wild personality, performances, and the dramatic circumstances that surrounded his life and early death, Jim Morrison is regarded by critics and fans as one of the most iconic and influential front men in the rock history. Since his death, his fame has endured as one of the most popular culture's rebellious and oft-displayed icons, representing the generation gap and youth counterculture. The disturbing, image and rich poeticism of Jim Morrison's lyrics, perfectly supported by The Doors' music, have assured him a continuing icon status, while his fondness for theatrical shock tactics and nihilistic angst have influenced countless imitators.

Jim Morrison began writing in earnest during his adolescence. He was strongly inspired by the writings of philosophers and poets. He was influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche, whose views of aesthetic and morality would appear in his poetry and songs. He read the works of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, whose literary style would latter, influenced the form of Jim Morrison's poems. He was also influenced by the authors Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Charles Baudelaire, Moliere, Franz Kafka, Honoré de Balzac and Jean Cocteau, along with most of the French existentialist philosophers.

Jim Morrison recorded his own poetry in a professional sound studio on two separated occasions. The first was in March 1969 in Los Angeles and the second was on December 1970. The later recording session was attended by Jim Morrison's personal friends and included a variety of sketch pieces. Some of the segments from the 1969 session were issued on the bootleg album "The Lost Paris Tapes" and were later used as part on this album, "An American Prayer".

"An American Prayer" is definitely an acquired taste and for many it's a taste that is very difficult to swallow. Whatever one's feelings about the album, it does remain an interesting and unique look into the mind and poetry of Jim Morrison. The album was a commercial success at the time of its release. It may have only reached number 54 on the American album charts but it did sell a million copies and receive a platinum sales award. The poetry is typical of Jim Morrison. He had a way with words and was able to create images that mesmerized. These words and images were not always clear or understandable but they always had a weird and very depth sense. The music tends to fit the words well. While the band revisited some psychedelic sounds from their past, they were able to fit the music to the individual poems. Rock, classical, and even some smooth-jazz tones provide a nice background to the album and add a positive effect to Jim Morrison's spoken words. I really like they have included a live "Roadhouse Blues" as well. It really prepares us for the rest. Despite it does not fit in with the rest of the material, it's so good that it makes you wish for more of the same.

Jim Morrison died in Paris in 3 of July of 1971, at the age of 27, and was buried in Paris at the Père Lachaise cemetery, alongside his literary heroes such as Oscar Wilde, Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine. Paris was an ideal world for Morrison, a world that was as equally ideal as his notion of the poetry. It was, perhaps, the right place to be a poet. However, it was also a place that would make him feel isolated, depressed, and ultimately, suicidal, which was reflected in his poems. As Morrison found out, he unfortunately couldn't escape the inevitable consequence of his idealism.

Conclusion: "An American Prayer" is a very difficult album to rate, because it's probably a unique album in the history of rock music. It can be rated with 2, 3 or 4 stars. It can be rated with 2 stars because it's a very intimate album and probably only appreciated by great fans, especially Jim Morrison's fans. It can be rated with 4 stars because it has a great quality, especially its beautiful and touchy lyrics. It can be rated with 3 stars if you consider, like me, that "An American Prayer" is more than an album to collectors and fans only, because it can be considered a very good album, but not an essential album. So, "An American Prayer" is a very special album for everybody who wants to know better the personality of Jim Morrison and how he became so important, even today. RIP in peace, Jim. We'll never forget you.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

Latest members reviews

3 stars An oddity of sorts. A collection of Morrison's poetry with background music done by the Doors. One thing evident here, is Jim's hypnotic voice. This is even more evident on the original 'Lost Paris Tapes' from where some of the material here was taken from. Musically, highlights of the record wo ... (read more)

Report this review (#133704) | Posted by Jimsey | Sunday, August 19, 2007 | Review Permanlink

Post a review of THE DOORS "An American Prayer"

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives

Donate monthly and keep PA fast-loading and ad-free forever.