|1. The Changeling|
|2. Love Her Madly|
|3. Been Down So Long|
|4. Cars Hiss By My Window|
|5. L.A. Woman|
|7. Hyacinth House|
|8. Crawling King Snake|
|9. The WASP (Texas Radios And The Big Beat)|
|10. Riders On The Storm|
|1. The Changeling*|
|2. Love Her Madly*|
|3. Cars Hiss By My Window*|
|4. L.A. Woman*|
|5. The WASP (Texas Radio And The Big Beat)*|
|6. Been Down So Long*|
|7. Riders On The Storm*|
|8. She Smells So Nice|
|9. Rock Me|
While the majority of their previous album sounds like it could have been written and recorded by anybody, LA WOMAN certainly sounds bluesy, but here the songs are written with the idiosyncracies that made the band so endearing in the first place. From the acid trip of "The Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)" to the seedy, decadent portrait of LA in the title track, The Doors shows us that, no matter how hard they want to be a blues band, they just too undeniably weird and unique to make a true blues album. And, ironically, that's what makes LA WOMAN such a powerful record. It's blues but blues like only The Doors could play, and that's what makes it such a rich, compelling listen.
The hit singles off this effort were "Love Her Madly," "LA Woman," and the radio rock staple "Riders on the Storm." "Love Her Madly" is one of The Doors' catchiest songs. "LA Woman" stands as one of The Doors' very best songs, with its decadent portrait of LA and its paean to some larger-than-life woman who consumes landscape, and could very well be a symbol of the city itself. "Riders on the Storm," the final word from The Doors with Morrison, has that edgy, atmospheric [paranoia] aura that makes so much of their early work so exciting to listen too. One of the essential images of Morrison, that lonely hitchhiker, shows up, and Morrison deals with man's relationship to the world ("Into this house we're born/Into this world we're thrown") and pleads women to love their men so that the human race will never die out. The exact meaning of "Riders on the Storm," like the best poetry, is open to interpretation; however, when The Doors were at the top of their game (as they are here), they create some of the most emotionally evocative music of that generation. "Riders on the Storm," with its panoramic lyrics, its ominous music, and the tonal, chanting way Morrison recites the lyrics, takes us to that other side, into a new realm of consciousness. Very mind altering stuff, and easily one of The Doors' top five songs. Had this been their only major song, The Doors' place in rock history would be forever secure.
The rest fall into some very basic blues variations. "The Changling" is a particular favorite of mine, with some great playing, along with "L'America" and "The Wasp." In the former Morrison sings about some mythical, very mystical, and certainly precolonial form of America. I keep getting visions of conquistadors and European vandals, stealing from the native peoples. "The Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)," lyrically, stands among Morrison's finest, and is one of The Doors' best album tracks. There are lots of great lines in it ("no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn!). There's the rather pedestrian "Crawling King Snake," a John Lee Hooker cover, but the Lizard King himself ties it very successfully into his own personal legend. "Been Down So Long," along with the great "Cars Hiss By My Window," shows you The Doors could write blues with the best of them, but very unique blues. "Hyacinth House" is a nice ballad, with Morrison finding himself alone and wanting a friend who doesn't need him. A very good composition.
In the end, The Doors play their own brand of blues in LA WOMAN, turning in some of the most memorable music of their all-to-brief career. I wish MORRISON HOTEL was as Doorsey as this one was, because LA WOMAN shows you The Doors had such a unique vision that they reinvented the subject matter of the blues, turning in a stylistic blues album that no one else could play. One of the Lizard King's finest hours, and unfortunately his last recording* with the band. Afterward, Morrison died, and this proved to be his swan song. We'll always remember you.
For this reviewer, I have a cherished place for The Doors because through them I have discovered so many new forms of artistic expression. Their debut (which is their best album, followed by STRANGE DAYS), was literally a life-changing album for me. Morrison's writing broadened my horizons, and got me into writing poetry and listening to all different styles of music. I owe so much to this band and Morrison in my own artistry and my writing; Morrison should me how mindblowing poetry and music truly can be. They truly did help me break on through to the other side, being the doors into new realms they meant themselves to be. I owe so much to them, and I'll never forget what Morrison did for me in opening up my mind.
* When Morrison died suddenly and mysteriously in Paris, The Doors went on to record two last albums, the appropriately titled OTHER VOICES and FULL CIRCLE. Out of print (you can find them as imports and rarity releases), these two albums aren't as powerful as the best moments with Morrison, but worth seeking out for the fan, especially for the song "Ships Without Sails," a wonderful song that reminds you of "Riders," and the weird (not wholly successful) parable story of "The Peking King and the New York Queen.")