It goes without saying the Doors were one of the best and biggest bands of 1967. That year, the Los Angeles, California band’s self-titled debut album not only featured the huge hit single, “Light My Fire,” but was lauded a stone cold masterpiece — a comment not to be taken lightly at a time when so many daring discs were conceived.
The Doors (which consisted of lead singer Jim Morrison, guitarist Robby Krieger, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, and drummer John Densmore) continued laying down some amazingly innovative and exciting pieces. Still, the quartet’s subsequent albums — Strange Days, Waiting for the Sun and The Soft Parade — as a whole, tended to lack the immediate punch of the first effort.
Nevertheless, the Doors still received heavy airplay and remained a major live attraction. As a matter of fact, depending on the participant’s point of view, a Doors gig could be either astonishingly profound, pathetic or pornographic.
Ditching the frills and tightening the bootstraps, Morrison Hotel (Elektra Records) surveyed the Doors purveying a blues-battered hard rock pitch with renewed vim and vigor.
Bloodthirsty and aggressive, “Roadhouse Blues” rumbles and rolls to a do-or-die state of mind, and “Waiting for the Sun” favors a slow-burning sense of mystery, suspense and and drama. Thick with power and volume, “Peace Frog” accents what a tasty and agile keyboard wizard Ray was, where “Blue Sunday” moves in as a calm and quiet ballad. And we can’t pass over songs like “Ship of Fools,” “You Make It Real,” “Queen of the Highway” or the psychedelic raga tenor of “Indian Summer,” which display the band’s assets in full swing.
A cooperative collaboration of blues and rock, sealed with firm melodies and catchy poetry encompassing sex, booze, and politics, Morrison Hotel scores a victory on both a musical and lyrical level. There’s nothing forced or phony about the band’s intentions, resulting in a spectacular set of songs that elevated the Doors back to the top of the rock pile where they belonged. Nice and tidy.
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