psychedelic rock band The Doors, recorded from between August 1966 and November 1969 and released by Elektra in February 1970.
The Doors returned to crunching, straightforward hard rock on Morrison Hotel,
an album that, despite yielding no major hit singles, returned them to
critical favor with hip listeners. An increasingly bluesy flavor began
to color the songwriting and arrangements, especially on the
party'n'booze anthem "Roadhouse Blues." Airy mysticism was still present
on "Waiting for the Sun," "Queen of the Highway," and "Indian Summer";
"Ship of Fools" and "Land Ho!" struck effective balances between the
hard rock arrangements and the narrative reach of the lyrics. "Peace
Frog" was the most political and controversial track, documenting the
domestic unrest of late-'60s America before unexpectedly segueing into
the restful ballad "Blue Sunday." "The Spy," by contrast, was a slow
blues that pointed to the direction that would fully blossom on L.A. Woman.
Although the Doors fourth album "The Soft Parade" (1969) had sold well
and produced the smash hit "Touch Me," both fans and critics alike felt
as though the band sold out. Compared to "The Doors" and "Strange Days"
(both 1967) the band's more recent work had been viewed as overtly
commercial. In the eyes of the Doors faithful, both "Waiting for the
Sun" (1968) and "The Soft Parade" seemed to pale in comparison to the
Doors first two albums. "The Soft Parade" in particular, with its
strings and pop compositions, seemed to rub Doors fans and critics the
wrong way. The negative feedback, however, ultimately worked to the
Doors advantage. In response to the negative buzz, the Doors released
what would ultimately be hailed as one of their finest albums "Morrison
"Morrison Hotel" is neither a return to the sound
of the Doors early albums nor is it a follow-up to the styling of its
immediate predecessor "The Soft Parade." Rather, "Morrison Hotel" opens a
new chapter in the Doors history all together. Gone were the
psychedelic trimmings of the first two albums. Gone was the
commercialism of the last two. "Morrison Hotel" is distinctly stripped
down, and edgier. It was akin to what Credence Clearwater Revival were
doing at the time. All in all, "Morrison Hotel" is an album of
unadulterated, meat-and-potatoes, no-nonsense, blues-tinged, rock n'
Although "Morrison Hotel" embraces a new sound, all the
elements of the Doors are firmly in place; Jim Morrison's soulful
baritone, John Densmore's jazzy percussion, Robbie Krieger's bluesy
guitar, all the while peppered with Ray Manzarek's wholly unique
signature organ and piano. So while "Morrison Hotel" sees the Doors
exploring new ground, they do so in a way that doesn't forget what made
the Doors, the Doors.
Some of Morrison's best poetry is on
"Morrison Hotel." While all his work is good, with "Morrison Hotel," he
was just starting to blossom as a writer and was becoming more refined.
some respects, "Morrison Hotel" is a precursor or sister album to its
more renowned follow-up, "LA Woman" (1971). Both albums are cut from the
same cloth in the sense that they are both blues-tinged hard-rock, but
"Morrison Hotel," while hardly cheerful, is distinctly less dark,
perhaps because the listener knows that Morrison's death is not
The straight-forward "Roadhouse Blues" was the most
rocking song the Doors recorded since "Break on though (to the other
Side) from the Doors debut. John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful
(though not credited by name) adds the perfect touch of harmonica to
give the song a gritty edge. "Waiting for the Sun," which was originally
penned for the album by that name, begins slowly and serene, with an
underlining pressure slowly building up beneath the surface, as forceful
keyboards pierce their way though from time to time. Then, as the
chorus sets in, the song yields to Morrison, demanding to know "what
went wrong." The upbeat "You Make Me Real," while not bad, lacks the
grit of the rest of "Morrison Hotel," and is not one of the albums
better songs. The highly underrated melodic "Peace Fog" gets the album
back on track and features one of Krieger's best solos. The serene "Blue
Sunday" is simply enchanting, and Morrison had never given a more
soulful delivery (although by now his voice was not what it had been).
Cut from the same cloth, the jazzy "Ship of Fools" and the bluesier
"Land Ho!" acts effectively as a semi-medley. On the low-key, serene,
"The Spy," one really believes that Morrison is omni-present, as he
states he is. The easygoing "Queen of the Highway" follows nicely,
keeping up the momentum. "Indian Summer" is simply one of the most
beautiful Doors compositions ever. More than just another balled,
Morrison never sounded so vulnerable or sincere. Though Morrison's voice
is nearly shot for the closing "Maggie Mc'Gill," this bluesy rocker
makes for a good finale.
Unfortunately for Morrison and the band
as a whole, by the recording of "Morrison Hotel," Morrison's heavy
drinking and drugs were beginning to take a toll on his voice. While his
voice isn't a ghost of its former glory as it is in the follow-up "LA
Woman," Morrison does sound strained.
Upon its release, "Morrison
Hotel" was greeted with a warm reception among fans and critics alike,
and the album was praised as the groups' best work since "Strange Days."
While "Morrison Hotel" is held in high regard today, it is
unfortunately sometimes overlooked due to the fact that fans and critics
alike tend to cite the Doors first two albums, and Morrison's swan
song, "LA Woman" as the bands best work. And while "Morrison Hotel"
boasts such classics as "Roadhouse Blues" and "Waiting for the Sun,"
many other songs like "Indian Summer" and "The Spy" are overlooked and
remain lost treasures.
The cover photo was taken at the actual Morrison Hotel located at 1246 South Hope Street in Los Angeles. The band asked the owners if they could photograph the hotel and they declined, so the band went inside when nobody was looking and took the photograph. The rear cover features a photograph of the Hard Rock Café on 300 East 5th Street, Los Angeles. The founders of the later and otherwise unrelated Hard Rock Cafe chain used the name, having seen it on the Doors' album. The original cafe is no longer open for business.
The next-to-last Doors album, recorded prior to Jim Morrison's still
mystery-shrouded death in a Parisian bathtub, eschewed much of the
band's previous penchant for baroque musical, poetic, and philosophical
pretensions (this was, after all, the back-to-roots era of the Beatles' Let It Be, the Stones' Let It Bleed, and Dylan's Nashville Skyline).
Instead, the Doors circa 1970 wisely seeped themselves in a bluesy,
no-frills approach that might have hinted at creative exhaustion in a
lesser band. Instead, the Doors of "Roadhouse Blues" and "Peace Frog"
reinvented themselves into arguably one of the greatest bar bands ever,
with Morrison's well-documented demons frolicking in a welcome new
ambience. "Waiting for the Sun" and "Ship of Fools" may hearken back to
the band's cabalistic and Kurt Weill leanings, respectively, but framed
in an edgier, more effective way.
1. Roadhouse Blues (4:04)
2. Waiting For The Sun (4:00)
3. You Make Me Real (2:53)
4. Peace Frog (2:50)
5. Blue Sunday (2:12)
6. Ship Of Fools (3:08)
7. Land Ho! (4:10)
8. Spy (4:17)
9. Queen Of The Highway (2:47)
10. Indian Summer (2:35)
11. Maggie McGill (4:24)
Line-up / Musicians
- Jim Morrison / vocals
- Ray Manzarek / organ, keyboards, piano and vocals
- John Densmore / drums
- Robby Krieger / guitar
- Lonnie Mack / bass
- Ray Neapolitan / bass
- G. Puglese / harmonica, harp