This latest release of the remastered tracks in Morrison Hotel and the ten bonus tracks is astounding in some places and dull in others. But one could never expect the near-perfection of their first two albums to be rivalled by the follow-ups. But still, Morrison Hotel, especially this remastering, is a great spiritual victory for Doors fans and for the surviving band members, producers and engineers.
The long liner-notes are a must read for those of us too lazy to read whole books on the doors. Indeed, if one reads the liners to all these re-releases, one will get a tremendous and condenced and poetic sense of the doors and their mission. Just because the Doors were egomaniacs, and just because they were rather primitive musically, does not mean that they were not giants. Critics often make the mistake of believing that skill, professionalism and accurate self-assessments are some profoundly determining factor in art. They are not. Many of the most competent and sane folks on the planet are also the dullest and finally the most discouraging.
Doors believers, of which I am one, having been a real member of the now dormant "Church of The Doors," can truly take solace in this re-release series. The focus on the multiple takes of Roadhouse Blues reveals not only a certain lack of technical talent, but also a wonderful and child-like curiosity and experimentalism, which, finally, is more important that excellent craftsmanship. Sorry, you classical music didacticians and cynical, nihilist rock critics.
One great gift on this album that bears retelling is the simplistic and Wagnerian "Waiting for The Sun." The song was dumped from the album which bears its name, and one can see why, because it's a rather half-complete concept. However, as the graces would have it, many projects in which the gods cut us short are the best ones. This song, had they thought it out too much, would have lost its wondrous simplicity. True, they only put it on this record because they were in a bit of a slump, but, astounding, it's rather fun and has an almost early british invasion meets the Ventures kind of all-wrongness that comes out just magestically.
Another forgotten and underated song is "The Spy," which is really fantastic even though they could only think of one verse and simply repeated it over and over again. But, as one commericial songwriter I know, one who has sold tens of thousands of albums once said, "The problem with certain songs is that they only have one verse, but that often ends up being the whole genius of them."
Indian Summer is another almost Half-Song which, if the Doors had felt like they were on a hot streak, might have never let see the light of day. But, as it is, the song is nearly a nursery rhyme, one that is amazingly powerful in its innocense.
The truth was, Jim Morrison was not really a singer. And, as snobby literary critics love to point out, was not the great poet that he thought he was. But, as Cosmic Fate would have it, had he been a true professional at either, the whole force of Jim Morrison's massive, albeit flawed, character would never have created the half-century stir that they have. Genius is not what great craftsman do with their natural talents, it's what people with big gaps in their talent do to make up for it. (A concept I stole from Vonnegut's Bluebeard.)
Morrison Hotel caught The Doors right in an awkward middle of their career, but even so, this re-release is just a fabulous gift to us all.