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L.A. Woman

The Doors

1971

"Well I've been down so god damn long, that it looks like up to me", sings Jim Morrison on album's 3rd track "Been Down So Long".  As the song and lyrics suggest, Jim Morrison is singing the blues the majority of the time on what would prove to the The Doors last album, L.A. Woman

Morrison had good reason to be singing the blues.  It was 1971, and The Doors had been stirring up a heep of controversy the past few years on the US tour circuit, playing an exhausting amount of shows and Morrison himself having several run-ins with the law along the way.  By this time, Morrision had developed quite a reputation for himself as a hard-partying, controversial, drugged-out lead-singer of the one the most popular acts on the planet.

By the time L.A. Woman was recorded, all of the hard-partying, excessive drug use, and stress from touring was starting to take it's toll on Morrison personally.  He sounds weary and worn out on L.A. Woman, occassionally shouting himself hoarse on a couple of songs.  The album has more of a loose, bluesy, rock & roll sound to it than some of their past records which were more psychedelic in nature.  That's not to say there isn't a fair share of trippy songs on the album (it is The Doors after all) but the backbone of the album is more firmly rooted in the blues than any if their prior efforts.

Take the raucous opening track for example "The Changling".  This track bursts out of the gate with a borderline funky, danceable sound.  It's an up-tempo, adrenaline-pumping song and one of my personal favorites from the band.  "Love Her Madly" follows, which is one of The Doors most popular songs and another favorite of mine.

The blues really kicks in with the aforementioned "Been Down So Long".  It doesn't sound forced, it sounds sincere and rough, a genuinely good blues song.  Morrison sounds weary, reckless, and borderline pissed on this track, like he's genuinely fed up and sick & tired.  He really conveys a sense of drugged-out wearniess on the next track "Cars Hiss By My Window" which is a hazy, slow, lethargic number, but no less interesting than the prior tracks.

The tempo kicks back up again for the epic title track, which again is another Doors classic, possibly my favorite song the band ever recorded.  One can't help but picture early 70s Los Angeles when you listen to this song, with all it's glitz, sleeze, and allure.  The "Mr. Mojo" build-up and release is absolutely fantastic and classic.  Probably the peak/climax of the entire album.

"L'america" follows, taking a page out of the Doors patented psychedelic playbook.  It's catchy and quite effective, managing to incorporate a bluesy swagger in the chorus admist the psychedelic backdrop of the song.  The next track "Hyacinth House" is one of the best songs on the album, oddly left out in many "best-of" compilations of the band's work.  It's a beautiful song, somewhat somber in tone.  It also has a kind of yearning, haunting vibe to it given the fact Morrison would not survive the rest of the year.  An endearing song, that kind of gives you a peak into Morrison's psyche at that perilous time in his life.

After a somewhat underwhelming blues song "Crawling King Snake" The Doors treat us to "The Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)" which is a fantastic blues-based song.  It features a rather odd arrangement, but it's quite catchy and another Doors classic.

The album closes out with the atmospheric "Rider's On the Storm".  Quite mellow and trippy in nature, it would turn out to be the final song on the final album Jim Morrison would ever record, which only accentuates the haunting, mysterious nature of the song.  It's a classic in anyone's book, and a fitting way to end a great album.

As previously mentioned, Jim Morrison would not survive the rest of the year after L.A. Woman was released.  Shortly after finishing the album, he left his bandmates behind and moved to Paris, where he would die of a heroin overdose a few months later.  Tragic as his death was, he did manage to leave behind a fantastic swan song of an album, possibly The Doors best album of their career, firmly cementing their legacy as one of the greatest bands of all-time.

9.2/10

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