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Morrison Hotel was the fifth studio album from The Doors, made up of singer Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robbie Krieger and drummer John Densmore. It was released in 1970, and marked a reversion back to their roots after the experimental nature of The Soft Parade was not well received. The album reached Number 4 on the US album chart and reached No. 12 on the UK chart, the band's highest charting album.
I definitely prefer this album to The Soft Parade. There are several standout tracks for me. The Spy is a soft, atmospheric, melancholic track, while Waiting for the Sun (which didn't make it onto the album of the same name) is a beautifully evocative song. Blue Sunday has the same relaxed atmosphere and Indian Summer also sees the band in reflective mood.
The album leans heavily towards blues, as tracks such as Roadhouse Blues, Queen of the Highway and You Make Me Real show. The band reveals a nautical bent in Ship of Fools and Land Ho!, while Peace Frog's jaunty rhythm and beat belies its lyrics ("There's blood in the street, it's up to my ankles"). The only song I'm not keen on is Maggie M'Gill, which is a bit dull and repetitive.
1. Roadhouse Blues
2. Waiting for the Sun
3. You Make Me Real
4. Peace Frog
5. Blue Sunday
6. Ship of Fools
7. Land Ho!
8. The Spy
9. Queen of the Highway
10. Indian Summer
11. Maggie M'Gill
Overall, I think Morrison Hotel is a definite improvement on The Soft Parade and marked a return to form for the band. I'm going to give it four stars.
The Doors - Morrison Hotel (1970)
Producer: Paul A. Rothchild
Waiting for the Sun
You Make Me Real
Ship of Fools
Queen of the Highway
After their previous album, The Soft Parade, was not well received by either fans or critics due to its experimental edge, The Doors reverted back to their original style for album number five, with a new significance given to the blues. This tactic worked and saw the band receive glowing reviews from critics, and fans had their faith in the band re-established.
The LP sleeve photo, The Doors inside the Morrison Hotel in Chicago, was a difficult one to get, as the owners of the Hotel refused the band access to take the photo. So, when nobody was looking, the band snuck in and quickly took the shots they needed, as you do.
This new found enthusiasm for the blues can be heard on the scorching opening track, Roadhouse Blues. Jim Morrison has never acted out the barroom drunk better than here, his words fighting for prominence as they fall from his intoxicated lips one after the other. The harmonica is rocking out hard and I love the way it mimics Morrison's yells at the 3 minute mark, "Save our city!!" This will be more than enough to please most listeners, but the fact that it also contains an insane guitar solo from Robby Krieger and killer piano work from Ray Manzarek only confirms The Doors' greatness.
You Make Me Real is less than 3 minutes long, and is, in a word, perfection. The playful piano piece from Manzarek is up there with his best work, but I feel it is guitarist Krieger's fondness for leaning towards the blues which truly shines. It's honest, downright gripping, simplified rock 'n' roll. You just know it's going to be great from the first moment Morrison announces, "I really want you!"
Peace Frog is funkadelic and is one of my favourite songs from the band. Morrison allegedly wrote the lyrics, when as a child he saw an accident take place where two vehicles had collided. He claims to have seen the victims scattered everywhere and bleeding, "Indians scattered on Dawn's Highway bleeding, and ghosts crowd the young child's fragile egg-shell mind." With all this myth and legend circling around Morrison's lyrics, it is perhaps easy to forget the momentum which the band had at this point for creating instinctive riffs and watertight melodies. Peace Frog is no different and will have you playing air-guitar if you know what is good for you.
The Spy is very, very cool and a calculated attempt to bring the sleazy clubs of the night to those of us with less than exciting lives. The spindly guitar work is very clever and conjures up images of people sneaking around. Hell, each band member brings something to the table during The Spy; you can quite easily see Manzarek playing his piano in the corner of a nameless club, with smoke spiralling amongst his hosts and the seedy low-life going about their day-to-day lives.
Queen of the Highway is psychedelic, featuring some captivating guitar work by Krieger, and again, more stellar keyboard playing from Manzarek. I mean, you'd be lucky to have any one member of The Doors in a band, but the fact that they had Morrison, Krieger and Manzarek all shooting for the stars simply meant that they could not fail.
Indian Summer shows a more gentle side to the band. It is a carefully considered ballad, in which Morrison has rarely sounded quite as welcoming as he does here.
The final song, Maggie M'Gill, is somewhat different to previous album closers by The Doors. It doesn't boast a massive running time, a la The End or When the Music's Over, but on the other hand it possesses a more refined sound than the closers from their two previous albums, the raw Five to One and the preachy The Soft Parade. Maybe comparisons shouldn't be made with previous efforts, but I feel that it falls a little short of some of the band's other recordings.
The Doors have few rivals when they get down to the direct thrills and excitement that rock 'n' roll can provide. Morrison Hotel is a wonderful showcase for their talents and makes for a very strong entry in their catalogue. Sure, it has nothing on their debut, but not many things do.
So, just sit back and enjoy a fantastic LP!
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Morrison Hotel is an album released in 1970 by The Doors and I really love it, it has a great gravelly blues sound to it. Jim Morrison sounds coarse and rough - god knows what he got up to in the years between the release of their debut album and this but it certainly aged him and his voice!
Whilst this album failed to produce any big hits - Roadhouse Blues happens to my favourite Doors track ever and other good tracks include Peace Frog, Queen of the Highway and the more sombre Waiting for the Sun.
The songs are quite deep and moving, whilst some seem to just be plain random poetry and quite a few have insanely catchy choruses - this is album is an easy one to sing along to, despite the voice being hard to immitate well! The upbeat energy of this album makes a change from the hippyish stuff around at the time and I think that is why I like it so much - it really has a lot of balls!
There are a few average tracks in here though - Land Ho, The Spy and Maggie M'Gill for me.
1. "Roadhouse Blues" (Jim Morrison, The Doors) - 4:04
2. "Waiting for the Sun" (Morrison) - 3:59
3. "You Make Me Real" (Morrison) - 2:53
4. "Peace Frog" (Morrison, Robby Krieger) - 2:54
5. "Blue Sunday" (Morrison) - 2:13
6. "Ship of Fools" (Morrison, Krieger) - 3:08
7. "Land Ho!" (Morrison, Krieger) - 4:10
8. "The Spy" (Morrison) - 4:17
9. "Queen of the Highway" (Morrison, Krieger) - 2:47
10. "Indian Summer" (Morrison, Krieger) - 2:36
11. "Maggie M'Gill" (Morrison, The Doors) - 4:23
Morrison, Manzarek, Kreiger & Densmore : The Doors. Individually even Jim Morrison probably wouldn’t have been a success but the fusion of all their abilities and musical styles made a sound that still sounds truly unique. The majority of their is driven by Manzarek’s keyboards assisted by subtle flourishes from Kreiger and sold beats and theatrical flourishes from Densmore over which Morrison’s lyrics laden with mysticism added a dangerous edge in the hippie era of love and peace. From an inspired residency at the famous Whiskey-A-Go-Go club through their 1st three albums The Doors could do no wrong However in 1969 it went pear-shaped The Soft Parade album a more experimental affair was poorly received and Morrison was arrested for exposing himself at a Florida concert. In 1970 they went back to basics and returned to their blues roots with “Morrison Hotel”. Commercially this was seen as a return to form but my own view is that the band weren’t firing on all cylinders. So whilst there is no obviously indulgent piece (such as Horse Latitude) too many songs miss the mark and fail to really engage my attention for me to consider this a masterpiece. In the approved style the songs are :- Roadhouse Blues The best song on the album, as the title says this is a simple blues song, but with added balls. Morrison’s deep bass voice rolls out a poetic line that is then mirrored by a mouth organ resulting in a stretching of the song although not to the epic proportions one expects from the band. 9½/10 Waiting for the Sun 2 songs playing separately, and then combining, a gentle harpsichord and a dirty rock riff. 9/10 You make me Real Driven by a Manzarek’s Honky Tonk piano this is 50’s style rock’n’roll, and a good example of how The Doors take a musical style and make it all their own. 8/10 Peace Frog This is the kind of song that T
he Inspiral Carpets based their whole career on, add a shuffle beat and this could be a baggy anthem. Again Manzarek makes the song with little organ breaks to keep the straight ahead rock number moving at a fast speed 8/10 Blue Sunday A delicate love song, held together by Morrison’s voice with the others providing lullaby style support, pleasant but unmemorable 7/10 Ship of Fools A hint of latin jazz and country in this otherwise straightforward rock number which rolls like the sea between crescendos and mellow. 6½/10 Land Ho! A jaunty song, with a sea shanty air to a typical Doors backing. 6½/10 The Spy A slow burn blues number with a dash of jazz. Features creeping guitars and alehouse piano over which Morrison’s voice oozes like warm treacle – class. 9/10 Queen of the Highway I’ve listened to this several times wondering why it doesn’t jump out and the only thing I can think of is that this verges on the border of easy with its jazzy noodling feel. 5½/10 Indian Summer Whilst associated with the hippies, musically The Doors very rarely played stereotypical hippy music. This is about as near as they get with mellow eastern tinged tune pushed way into the background over which Morrison sings. 6½/10 Maggie M’Gill The final track is another blues belter with a stuttering thumping rhythm section, but again it doesn’t light my fire possibly because the lyrics, which always border on pretentious, don’t seem to fit 6/10 So looking at the final scores on the Doors we can see that this isn’t a classic album, 3 tracks would make a best of, a further 3 would make the best of the rest but the final 5 would be doomed to be only listened to on this album. Why does it fall down? It lacks the cutting edge of previous albums seeming to be satisfied with songs as just support for Morrison’s poetry whereas at their
best the music is as important as the lyrics with Messieurs Krieger, Manzarek and Densmore as vital to the sound and imagery as Morrison. The failure of this is that there is no 7 minute + epic song on this album which maybe shows that the band themselves knew they were lacking in that vital spark of inspiration to raise their game to the level of greatness they were capable of. Having said all that, this is by no means a failure and worth a listen, although maybe not as an introduction to the band. It still has an edge to it which means it still stands head and shoulders above most of the pap that’s polluting the charts today.
Morrison Hotel marks a more hard rock and blues feel attitude from the Doors and in my opinion also marks their return back to form. I still have reservations though and this is to do with myself being an early Doors fan. Morrison Hotel puts Morrison's vocal talents to the forefront and you can tell that his voice has certainly matured a lot more than from early albums. Maybe this is from all the drinking and smoking he did? His voice sounds almost rough and ready and you can really enjoy it as the album progresses. The Doors also do-away with the horn section that was so much in evidence in “The Soft Parade” album. I am for one pleased that they did this as I felt that the “Soft Parade” wasn’t the true Doors at all. I said that I had my reservations about the album and I still do. I much prefer they got back to their grass-roots style that characterised their first two albums. However it would be naïve not think a band that has been together for five year (at the time of the album) would not try and seek out new directions as they seek to grow as a unit. “Roadhouse Blues” is by far the best track as it thumps along. It for me sounds most like their earlier work and perhaps is no surprise that I enjoyed it the most. All in all not a bad album by the Doors but by no means their best.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Roadhouse Blues
2 Waiting For The Sun
3 You Make Me Real
4 Peace Frog
5 Blue Sunday
6 Ship Of Fools
7 Land Ho
9 Queen Of The Highway
10 Indian Summer
11 Maggie McGill