Try this the next time you find yourself in a room full of rock ‘n’ roll music geeks: ask if anyone can name the Doors’ last two studio albums. The novices might say Morrison Hotel and LA Woman, while the up and comers might quibble about whether or not An American Prayer qualifies as a Doors’ album.
However, the real masters of trivia will smile knowingly, because the correct answer is Other Voices and Full Circle, the 1971 and 1972 offerings that were released right after Jim Morrison checked out of his own personal Morrison Hotel in Paris on July 3, 1971.
And now ask the follow up question: has anyone ever heard these two albums? In any given group of twenty people, it would be a surprise if two or three could raise their hand.
These LPs are rarely considered to be part of the Doors’ canon, even by the surviving Doors themselves, if the rumors are true. They evaded re-release for many years, but in the last couple of years they have been available as digital downloads at the usual places.
Back when Morrison was still around, Ray Manzarek got to sing occasionally in addition to flexing his keyboard skills, so it’s no surprise that he takes most of the lead vocals. Guitarist Robby Krieger does the rest of the singing, but his key contribution here is mostly for writing — which again makes sense, knowing in hindsight the fact that he did a lot of the musical composing when Mr. Mojo Risin’ was still alive. In fact, Krieger wrote “Light My Fire” himself, even though it was credited to the Doors as a unit. Playing from strengths is always good advice.
Both of these albums have occasional flashes of brilliance, but over all are just OK. Other Voices is the stronger of the two. It’s generally understood that the band was waiting for Morrison’s return, and so they were simply prepping songs for the next album. Consequently, the surviving members had material with which to start. However, the subsequent Full Circle, in many ways, just doesn’t even sound like a Doors’ album. So once again, modern playlist technology enables us to finagle the tracks into something brand new and wonderful called …
In the Eye of the Sun*
Ships w/ Sails*
It Slipped My Mind**
The Piano Bird**
Hang On to Your Life*
Starting with the best four tunes from Other Voices (*), plus the best three from Full Circle (**) gets most of a good album. The tricky part is getting a version of “Treetrunk,” the b-side of the single “Get Up and Dance.” It shows up as a bonus track on some imports, and can as well be found in the usual internet hangouts for lost songs. If you can’t find it, take “The Mosquito” and keep the great jam that follows the little novelty number at the front.
In the end, it’s too bad these albums are ignored. Maybe, if they were repackaged we’ve done on this More Perfect Playlist, they’d get out in the public more like they should have in the first place.