Elektra Records, 1970
REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/17/2007
The Doors continue to confound me to this very day. I have managed to accept almost all the artists I formerly disliked (The Band, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, etc.) Yet the Doors still are hovering in that Forbidden Zone just outside the boundaries of my very existence. I think Morrison would have wanted it that way.
Anyway, Morrison Hotel is a Doors record I can get behind. While containing many of the elements of their previous albums, this album has a harder edge that resonates quite well today. Jim Morrison at this point was not yet the out-of-his-mind bearded man he would soon become, and his voice was still strong.
One thing you cannot deny is the the Doors’ style has rarely been imitated. This is an album that features a band on the top of its game, with that incredibly unique Doors sound blasting through the loud and crunchy guitar riffs. The blues is a heavy influence on this record; “The Spy,” "Peace Frog" and “Roadhouse Blues” prove that in one fell swoop. Morrison’s voice may not be the best suited for straight up blues, but he’s still Jim Morrison, so who’s going to complain?
Given that this is a Doors record, in the end it’s hard to avoid the occasional self-indulgence. Lyrically speaking, Morrison can be absolutely brilliant or out of his gourd. Granted, Morrison Hotel was hardly far removed from the 60s, and at this point Morrison’s abilities were accepted. “Land Ho!,” for instance, is incredibly whimsical when place in contrast with the majority of the album, but it still works -- as most of the lyrics here are fairly straightforward, at least by Doors standards.
The absolute highlight for this album, and to be honest for most Doors records, is the brilliant use of keyboards/synthesizers. Songs that would be Spartan and shallow find themselves having depth and texture because of Ray Manzarek. “Waiting For The Sun” and “Land Ho!” add so much more to the picture then had they not been included. And, because this is very much a blues-influence record, the non electronic keyboards are very prominent and capture the genre quite well.
This was an album I picked up on vinyl a few months back and it has proven to be a good purchase. Morrison Hotel is where I started to come on board with this band, which would make it a good place to start for those who want to dig past the hits collections.
|Strong album, although I note what a friend whose favorite group was The Doors said: "When it came out, I did not buy it at first because it did not sound like them." I agree, it does not sound like the 1st four releases. He later said he really got into "Roadhouse Blues," etc. After that one and "Peace Frog," my next favorite song is "Ship of Fools."|