The Doors- ‘LA Woman’ Review
- The Changeling
- Love Her Madly
- Been Down So Long
- Cars Hiss By My Window
- LA Woman
- Hyacinth House
- Crawling King Snake
- The Wasp
- Riders On The Storm
Throughout a turbulent few months for me with graduation, finding a job and moving house I have needed music that has relaxed me and put me back into a mellow state of mind again.
The Doors’ sixth studio album LA Woman did just that and has remained a reliable source of de-stressing when needed, mainly due to its blues-rock style and ‘cocktail jazz’- a term commonly used as a derogatory remark about the album.
LA Woman turned out to be their most commercially successful and Rolling Stone magazine marked it as no. 362 in its ‘500 Greatest Albums of all Time’ list. It was also Jim Morrison’s last studio album before he died two months after its release. Morrison is now part of a collective term called ‘The 27 Club’ referring to musicians who have all died at the age of 27 including Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones and more recently, Amy Winehouse.
The album gets off to an upbeat start with ‘The Changeling’ which features the bands iconic organ sound layered beneath Morrison’s coarsely sung verses. As ever, Robby Krieger’s guitar swoons gently in unison with the vocals creating an uplifting start to the album.
‘Love Her Madly’ follows the upbeat mood but with a more blues tinge to the beat by adding a piano part which bounces melodically along in the background. These first two songs however signal a distinct deterioration in Morrison’s voice. ‘Been Down So long’ certainly adds credence to that fact as his vocals borders on the irritating at times.
The next two tracks though completely dispel the notion that Morrison is past his best and give the album its gentler touch. Firstly with ‘Cars Hiss by My Window’, the poeticism involved makes you feel like you’re lazing on a Sunday summers evening by the shore. Who doesn’t want to feel like that listening to a song? Secondly the album’s title track ‘LA Woman’, a key hit single in any collection of the band’s best achievements, gallops at a contagiously head swaying rate until a smooth interlude. Lyrically, ‘LA Woman’ sees the band at their poetically enigmatic best. After the interlude, Morrison repeatedly sings the line ‘Mr. Mojo Risin’’, an anagram for Jim Morrison, which has an interestingly persistent rumour behind it. Upon Morrison’s death in 1971, there was no official autopsy and the police report cited a heart attack which killed the singer. But there are many conspiracy theorists who believe that Morrison had faked his own death, due to differing accounts from his life-long companion Pamela Courson, Alain Ronay (a photographer friend of Morrison’s) and police reports differing from the medical reports. Supposedly, if Morrison had faked his own death, he would use the term ‘Mr Mojo Risin’’ as a way of communicating with his close friends and band members.
The album’s crowning achievement though is without a doubt its closing track ‘Riders On The Storm’. The song starts with torrential rain and thunder slowly fading in until the cyclical bass line kick-starts the track. Morrison’s voice is at its smooth, swooning best as he opens with the song’s title. Lines like, ‘There’s a killer on the road, his brain is squirming like a toad’ is said laconically, undermining the sinister undertones of the song. The reverb on Krieger’s guitar accentuates the rain, as if water was vibrating off the strings, and saturates the earthy bass line. From 2009, the song was inducted into the Grammy hall of fame and has been covered by many different artists including Santana, with Linkin’ Park Vocalist Chester Bennington singing and Ray Manzarek on keyboard as he did for The Doors in the studio recording.
Overall, the album is by far The Doors greatest studio recording and was the least toured lasting just two shows until, on the second show, the stage fell through because Morrison slammed the microphone stand down on it too hard. Afterwards, he announced his retirement from live shows and moved to Paris with Pam until his death two months later. The band split up in 1973 after two albums –Other Voices and Full Circle– without Morrison, with Manzarek and Krieger taking vocal duties, but couldn’t recreate the same chemistry without the late singer. Who knows how much more successful The Doors would have become had Morrison survived.