Tuesday, November 2, 2010

362. LA Woman. They could do albums too.

Album: LA Woman
Artist: The Doors
Year: 1971
Genre: Rock


  1. The Changeling
  2. Love Her Madly
  3. Been Down So Long
  4. Cars Hiss by My Window
  5. L.A. Woman
  6. L'America
  7. Hyacinth House
  8. Crawling King Snake
  9. The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)
  10. Riders on the Storm

One of my discoveries of the countdown so far has to be the Doors. I'm not saying I was unaware of Jim Morrison before I started this project, I'm saying I didn't realise how consistent they were as a band. My experiences with Doorsdom had been limited to the greatest hits and a few live albums I've heard. Sitting down and listening to two of their albums from start to finish has made me appreciate how good they were as songwriters and musicians.

LA Woman grabs you from the first track. I'd never heard The Changeling and it made me wonder why it's taken me this long to catch up with it. Any other band would have put this out as a single and it would have charted well but the Doors had better songs to give the general public. The Changeling is good, blues based rock and roll, as is pretty much the rest of the album. The title track and Love Her Madly are two of the biggest hits from they album and they deserve their place in whichever "Best Rock songs of all time" list is prepared to count them. Been Down so long, Cars Hiss By My Window and Crawling Kingsnake are great blues tracks. L'america and the Hyacinth house are a bit of a flat spot on the album and WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat) is an overly self-indulgence poem by Morrison that Krieger's guitar struggles desperately to salvage.

Far and away the best song on the album is The Doors biggest hit and possibly one of the best songs of the early seventies. Riders on the Storm is unlike anything anyone else was putting on vinyl at the time. It's creepy, hypnotic, mesmerizing and flat out fantastic. Of course I've heard this song before but for some reason it never really affected me the way it did when I heard it the other day. I'm not sure if it was just because I was listening closely or because the tracks preceeding it had conditioned me to really enjoy it. There's definitely something to be said for hearing a song in it's right place in a tracklisting. Certainly it benefits from not having the opening marred by some dickhead saying: "Weather bureau predicts some nasty weather on the way, rain, hail, it's gonna be ugly folks... here's The Doors with Riders on the Storm," which is how it gets announced every time it gets radio airplay.

The main reason Riders is such a good song is because it allows all The Doors a chance to shine. Robby Krieger is a much better guitarist than people give him credit for. People may enjoy debating Page, Clapton and Beck but all the while Robby is pulling off some tasty solos and proving he has a real feel for the blues. Ray Manzarek is a unique keyboard player who doesn't really sound like anyone else and The Storm song is his greatest moment in the sun. Ray's keys are funky and groovy and perfectly evocative of a fairly persistent downpour. Densmore is a tight drummer and at no point does he fall of his stool or smack himself in the forehead with a stick- which sometimes is all that's required of the guy who hangs around with the musicians.

The final aspect that makes Riders so good is that Jim Morrison shuts up. Don't get me wrong I have nothing against his vocal abilities, quite the contrary, but it's important that the guy behind the mike knows how to back away from time to time. During the song's long soloing passages Jim lets the rest of the band have their opportunity to crawl out from under his massive stage presence and feel some love. Jim's undeniable Charisma overshadowed the rest of the band completely and made him one of Rocks most recognisable Rock stars and granted the rest of the band virtual anonymity. Personally I think this is a real pity because the other members could stand equal in terms of talent. That's why albums like this one are the best way to appreciate The Doors. Sadly as a live unit the cult of Jim forced the band to become his backing outfit and their concerts were worse off for it.

If you're only Doors experience is on radio or from a Best Of then check LA Woman out.

Highlight: Riders on the Storm
Lowlight: WASP

Influenced by: The Blues and shamanism.
Influenced: Teenage boys searching for a hero.

Favourite Amazon Customer Review Quote: "Did you know that "Mr. Mojo Risin'" is a perfect anagram for Jim Morrison?"

-No. No I didn't. But I do now and I thank you for telling me.

So have the met an LA Woman? And did you love her madly or think she was just a crawling King Snake? Let me know below.

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