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The Doors - Full Circle CD (album) cover

FULL CIRCLE

The Doors

 

Proto-Prog

2.36 | 90 ratings

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patrickq
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Full Circle is arguably the first Doors LP recorded outside of Jim Morrison's shadow. Morrison didn't participate in any aspect of Other Voices (1971) - - in fact, he died shortly before that album was recorded. But Other Voices was originally planned to include Morrison, and that's clear on several Other Voices songs. Full Circle was begun with a proverbial clean slate.

The Doors had always been comprised of keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, drummer John Densmore, and lead vocalist Morrison; upon Morrison's death, Manzarek and Krieger took over the vocals. Prior to Full Circle, Morrison was also the frontman and a bad-boy celebrity to boot, and appears to have been the Doors member with the most influence over the band's musical direction. While the others may have had differing musical interests, each of the group's seven albums as a quartet (including Absolutely Live) hit the top ten of the Billboard (US) album chart - - so they were heading in a pretty successful direction. Even Other Voices hit #31. But with Morrison irretrievably gone, the old formula wasn't going to work, and co-lead singers Manzarek and Krieger - - who between them wrote nearly all of the group's post-Morrison material - - couldn't agree on a new tack. Specifically, as I understand it, Manzarek favored a jazzier direction while the other two wished to keep on rockin'. The lack of direction, as well as the group's declining popularity - - Full Circle peaked at #68 - - meant that this was also the last Doors LP recorded outside of Jim Morrison's shadow.

On one hand, Full Circle is more adventurous that Other Voices. Sometimes this works, such as on the groovy, psychedelic, and cantado-en-espaņol "The Mosquito." But more often really doesn't. Part of the issue may have been a lack of agreement on artistic direction, but it seems more likely that it was lack of inspiration.

On the other hand, maybe the problem is that the Doors, which had been an internally-inspired group, was now overly influenced by its contemporaries. To be sure, Full Circle is very much an early-1970s American rock record, sounding not only like the Doors, but in places echoing the Grateful Dead, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and even Blood, Sweat, and Tears. And like those groups, the Doors were no longer enjoying hit singles. (OK, the Dead never really enjoyed hit singles in the 1970s). The American rock acts that were enjoying big hit songs were more song-oriented: Jim Croce and Three Dog Night, for example. Full Circle is more album-oriented, but the diversity of contemporary styles and the attempted hooks imply that the group was aiming to remain as hitmakers. (Elektra released three singles from the album in the US: "The Mosquito" / "It Slipped My Mind," "Get Up and Dance" / "Treetrunk," and "The Piano Bird" / "Good Rockin'." Only the first of these charted, hitting #85. "Treetrunk," by the way, is a non-LP single included on some reissues of the CD.)

If you've already heard the Doors' music from their classic period, and are curious about how they sounded without Morrison, I'd start with Other Voices. In the event you enjoy that one, then by all means, get Full Circle.

patrickq | 2/5 |

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