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


The Doors



4.01 | 518 ratings

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2 stars As I see it, the Doors were trending downward when L.A. Woman was released in 1971, just months before the death of frontman Jim Morrison. It's true that there were some promising signs in the behavior of the mercurial Morrison during the recording sessions, but these were counterbalanced by an increasing number of indications that neither the band, nor perhaps music itself, was his raison d'être anymore. Plus, as demonstrated by the band's final two (Morrison-less) albums, and by the relative lack of post-Doors success experienced by the surviving members, Morrison's participation was essential.

Shortly after the L.A. Woman sessions began in November 1970, producer Paul A. Rothchild, who had been with the band since their first album, quit working with the group, partly, it's said, over Morrison's aversion to rehearsals, and partly because he disliked the group's artistic direction. Bruce Botnick was promoted from sound engineer to co- producer, but that choice must've been made with the realization that they'd be losing, but not replacing, a putative taskmaster and a decided quality-control agent.

Oddly (at least to me), the three strong songs here, 'Love Her Madly,' 'L.A. Woman,' and 'Riders on the Storm,' appear to have been the first rehearsed for the album. If Rothchild's oversight was in fact positively correlated with successful Doors material, that makes sense. But apparently it was precisely these songs which drove Rothchild out. At any rate, much of the remainder of L.A. Woman is offhanded bar-band blues, which may have been an attempt to keep it real, assuring critics and fans that their prior album, the pop-rejecting Morrison Hotel, was no fluke. On the title track, as well as many of the blues-based songs, Morrison affects a glottal vocal style which I have to assume is supposed to sound like a clichéd (i.e., black) blues or soul singer. It kind of works, for instance, on the James-Brown homage 'The Changeling,' but in other cases it sounds like Morrison just can't hit the notes. This is noticeable, for example, on the 'city of night' section of 'L.A. Woman.' But to be fair, he sounds in good voice when he's not imitating the style of others, on tracks like 'Love Her Madly,' 'L'America,' and 'Riders on the Storm.'

Speaking of 'Riders on the Storm:' while L.A. Woman sounds like the product of a band in decline, I have to acknowledge that the Doors close the album in a big way. Along with 'Break on Through' and 'Light My Fire' - - both from the Doors' 1967 debut album - - 'Riders on the Storm' is a true rock classic. And 'Love Her Madly' is another gem in the Doors headband.

I wouldn't recommend L.A. Woman to casual Doors fans unless we're talking about casual Doors fans who especially like blues-based rock - - and even then, I'd suggest the Allman Brothers or Cream first. But if neither that nor a Doors greatest-hits album is enough, L.A. Woman may be what you're looking for.

patrickq | 2/5 |


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