Album Remarks & Appraisals:
All About Jazz - C. Michael Bailey
In the end, The Doors were a jazz organ trio playing the blues, what keyboardist Ray Manzarek called "The Modern Jazz Quartet of Rock." Flirting with psychedelia on its first four albums, providing an acid soundtrack to 1967's Summer of Love, and releasing a critical career- killing album in The Soft Parade (Elektra, 1969), the band found its roots and made comeback skid-marks with Morrison Motel (Elektra, 1970) in the lowdown brilliant white-man boogie of "Roadhouse Blues." The Doors perfected this sound on what was appropriately their swan song, L.A. Woman (Elektra, 1971). Forty years on, L.A. Woman remains that perfect and troubled cultural enigma, that coda to what the Rolling Stones' ghastly free concert at Altamont started: the end of 1960s innocence and hope and the beginning of the 1970s' "elegantly wasted" surplus. That is what "Riders on the Storm" was all about.
L.A. Woman can be considered the Doors' version of the Beatles' Let It Be (Apple, 1970): the masterpiece produced from the pressure of a popular band imploding beneath the weight of its collective egos and the musicians' chosen excesses. Singer Jim Morrison could never be accused of being the poster child for great mental health and by 1970 he was fraying on all fronts. After the encouraging success of Morrison Hotel (and in the shadow of Morrison's indecency conviction), the band was encouraged by its producer Paul Rothchild to record again. Recording started, Morrison drug his feet and Rothchild criticized the new song "Love Her Madly" as "cocktail music" ultimately leaving the band to complete the new recording on its own. Among the chaos, hurt and confusion, the band did exactly that, creating its Symphonie Fantastque in L.A. Woman.
Rolling Stone (5/27/71, p.49) - "...In terms of what they're after here the Doors as a band never falter and there isn't one bummer cut on the entire album--obviously a first for them..."
Q (11/00, p.124) - 3 stars out of 5 - "...The Doors going back to their biker bar band roots....with a title track that inadvertently invented Billy Idol..."
Down Beat (p.69) - 3.5 stars out of 5 -- "Morrison stars with his raw-angered vocals. Covers of John Lee Hooker and Willie Dixon complement the hits..."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.83) - "[T]hey reconnected with their bluesy roots to create their finest album since their 1967 self-titled debut..."
NME (Magazine) (9/18/93, p.19) - Ranked #41 in NME's list of The Greatest Albums Of The '70s.
Uncut (magazine) (p.84) - 5 stars out of 5 -- "A rootsy album cut in The Workshop, The Doors' Los Angeles rehearsal space, LA WOMAN is at times a raw and bluesy affair..."
The Doors: Jim Morrison (vocals); Robbie Krieger (guitar); Ray Manzarek (piano, organ); John Densmore (drums).
Additional personnel: Marc Benno (guitar); Jerry Scheff (bass).
Recorded at The Doors Workshop, Los Angeles, California.
Each CD cover has been crafted by hand to recreate the original see-through cover art.
Personnel: Jim Morrison (vocals); Robby Krieger (guitar); Ray Manzarek (piano, organ); John Densmore (drums).
Audio Mixer: Bruce Botnick.
Liner Note Author: David Fricke.
Recording information: The Doors Workshop, Los Angeles.
Photographers: Frank Lisciandro; Wendell Hamick.
The final Doors album to feature vocalist Jim Morrison reaffirmed the quartet's grasp of blues-rock. Beset by personal and professional problems, they retreated to a rehearsal room, cast pressures aside, and recorded a handful of their most memorable compositions. The overall sound of the record is relatively stripped down, but the musicianship is uniformly excellent, with empathetic interplay between guitarist Robbie Krieger and keyboard player Ray Manzarek. Jim Morrison's voice, though somewhat ragged and weather-worn, adds its fiercely unmistakable resonance.
The spooky, low-key "Cars Hiss By My Window" and an edgy cover of John Lee Hooker's "Crawling King Snake" are straight, no-nonsense blues, but the album's highlights, including the jangling radio hit "Love Her Madly" and the breezy, chugging title track, which rides on a thrumming bass line and Krieger's fluid licks, mix bluesy bluster with the Doors' swirling, poetic magic. Morrison's death within weeks of the album's completion cast a pall over its content, especially the eerie rain and the funereal electric piano of "Riders On The Storm," the album's indisputable standout, and one of the most compelling, evocative songs in the band's catalogue. Though not the Doors' finest record, L.A. WOMAN was a fitting swan song for one of the most unique and important bands of the '60s.