The Doors – ‘L.A. Woman’ Review

By Pat Patrick

Just to begin, I’d like to say that I am and have been for quite a while, one of those sock-em-and bop-em, tried and true, Doors fans. Even more to the point, I am an even more devoted Jim Morrison fan. (I Love Him!) And how, I am going to write a horrible scathing review of the Doors’ new album, L.A. WOMAN.
It is always with great excitement and anticipation that I put a Doors album on the record player, even if I’ve heard it before, even lots of times. I put the new album on with great excitement and anticipation; I’d never heard it before. It begins,

THE CHANGELING—
“I’m a changeling
See me change change change
Change change
Change change…”
And then it continues, “Change, change, change, change, change,” And finally it ends “Change, change, change, change, change” slowly, softly fading out. I computed that if the words change did not last the full 4:20 of the song, they lasted almost the full 4:20 (if not, come to think of it, more than the full 4:20)

LOVE HER MADLY—
“Don’t you love her,
As she’s walking out the door?”
Nothing. Waiting for something to happen. Nothing. Feel sorry for Jim Morrison because you figure you know who walked out the door. Nothing.

BEEN DOWN SO LONG It Looks Up to Me—
Interest rises just because of the title, copped without credit, one notes’ sadly, from Richard Farina’s terrific book of the same name. The absence of the name Richard Farina somehow seems an omen. The song progresses. A friend says, “Horrible man, just horrible because its so honky. Morrison just doesn’t have any soul. Listen to those meaningless Baby, baby, babys.” The last baby seems out of tune or out of time or something. Preceding those horrible, meaningless babys is a horrible, meaningless slide solo. The whole song somehow just doesn’t make it. It’s like a Hell’s Angels Band, a whole lot of latent power there somewhere, but tasteless, just tasteless.

CARS HISS BY MY WINDOW—
The first thing one notices about this song is the fact that the music for the first 12 bars is an exact cop from “Little Red Rootster.” There is also a noticeable Jim- my Reid influence on the guitar. That’s about all.
At this point I realize that the whole album sounds like a demo. It sounds like some genius A&R man, or producer might hear it and say, “Hey, these cats just might make it with the right songs and arrangements and if Jim Morrison can sing.” Right about here Jim Morrison starts singing the lead guitar part. Everybody else stops playing, maybe because they are embarrassed. “What are you doing, Jim?” I ask him.

Now, L.A. WOMAN—This is it, folks. The album title track, and the longest track on the album (7:49). And again, nothing happens, except of course, your own waiting. The most impressive thing that occurs here is that at least you notice what exactly it is that as been making the whole album sound so monotone and uninteresting. Jim Morrison only sings 2-bar long phrases almost throughout, and the pacing is almost always exactly the same.
I turn the album over, now with anticipation of the worst, no excitement. I tell myself I’m only doing this because I must review both sides of the album, I’m quite relieved it isn’t a 2-record set. OK>

L’AMERICA—L’America, L’America, just like change, change, change, that seems to be all there is. No punch. No particular energy, and the same interval of voice against the tonic of the song-meaning, again, a monotone.

HYACINTH HOUSE—My first impression was that Jim was kidding – his voice was so low it sounded like the bass for the opera company recording next door had done the song as s joke. The main thematic line.
“And I’ll say it again,
I need a brand new friend.”
Strikes one as again just a repeat of the famous line in THE END.
“This is the end,
my only friend, the end.”
The music sounds exactly alike as well. Especially the organ ride.

CRAWLING KING SNAKE
“You better give me what I want, Gonna crawl no more.”
How utterly depressing. I love the Lizard King. I reveled at his celebration. I saw the “House upon the Hill, Moon is lying still,” I was, “The minister’s daughter’s in love with a snake,” I trusted the Lizard King, “I can do anything, I can make the earth stop in its tracks. I made the blue cars go away.” Is he telling me now that he’s crawling, that he’s been crawling? Did I believe in a crawling creature, I wonder? Where has the Lizard King gone?? (Was there ever a Lizard King?)
My friend says, “Basically, it’s a John Lee Hooker song. Of course, John Lee Hooker does it better, but it’s not even that. It’s a blues song and what they’re doing here bears no relation to the blues. The Doors are just not funky, are they?

The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat) – My friends, “This is the best song on Side Two, but it’s still not a very good song. It almost makes it though. Except that Jim Morrison refers to black people as negroes.” There’s a great lick in this song: (Written music)

Finally, RIDERS ON THE STORM—All I can say about this cut is that the Storm so to speak doesn’t really sound much like a storm to me. Rather, it sounds like upstairs neighbors moving furniture. In fact, that’s what I thought it was at first. I wanted to ask them to be quiet.
So, what happened? One must ask. I can conjecture a member of possibilities:
Jim Morrison is tired – of being Jim Morrison, rock star, of fucking up, of not being a great poet – filmmaker, of the music business. He is in Paris right now, writing a novel, and a lot of poems. Maybe when he returns, he’ll feel a whole lot better about himself.
The Doors music still sounds exactly the way it did in the very beginning, only sans la vie, and energy. It sounds like they never listen to anyone else.
The Doors need Paul A. Rothchild as their producer. Perhaps he was responsible for that strange, magical, almost unearthly sound the Doors were capable of in the beginning. Studio effects like slight echoes, double tracking, special sound things, helped the Doors. They are all missing on this album, produced by the Doors and their engineer on previous albums, Bruce Botnick. There is a lack of control throughout; Morrison sounds just bored, he needs to be directed, and it sounds as if there was just poor production control throughout.
It was said at the time that the Doors made their first album stoned on acid too, different trip, or were they just drunk?

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