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From the Vault: The Doors – L.A. Woman

“Get loose!” orders Jim Morrison on the opening line to L.A. Woman. Those two words sum up why The Doors’ sixth studio album is possibly their best ever work: the shackles are off and the sound is stripped down after the grandiose but ultimately disappointing Soft Parade. It’s The Doors at their blues-rock best, and its mere existence is a miracle in itself.

Morrison’s bohemian lifestyle became an alcohol-induced spiral of self-destruction, culminating in an arrest for two counts of indecent exposure, two of public profanity, one of excessive public drunkenness and finally “simulation of oral copulation”. Very rock’n’roll. Recording sessions were a disaster, producer Paul Rothchild resigned and the band were left frustrated and bored. But then something changed. They ditched the recording studio in favour of their old rehearsal room and, much to Morrison’s delight, Jerry Scheff (of Elvis fame) was invited to the recording sessions to take on bass duties. The album suddenly sparked to life.

Krieger’s catchy guitar riff on ‘Love Her Madly’ cemented it as the lead single, and Manzarek’s bright melodies on his Vox Continental ensured it became a Doors classic. ‘Riders on the Storm’ is a more atmospheric offering, conjuring a powerful vibe of loneliness with the sound of pouring rain and thunderstorms layered over a melancholic keyboard.

You can almost imagine Morrison singing ‘Cars Hiss By My Window’ to his empty pint glass in some L.A. dive; it sees the band at their most bluesy before the title track kicks in and the album becomes a different beast entirely. ‘L.A. Woman’ is as fast-paced a rocker the band have ever recorded, a sprawling eight minute masterpiece about the allure of late ’60s Los Angeles and its “cops in cars and topless bars”. Then there’s ‘The Wasp (Texas Radio and The Big Beat)’, an outlet for Morrison’s oft-lauded poetry. It started life as part of his famous poetic interludes during gigs, but appears here as a fully-fledged slick number with a pulsating beat from Densmore on drums.

“The future’s uncertain, the end is always near” sings Morrison on earlier track ‘Roadhouse Blues’. It’s a line that was never more appropriate than during the recording of this LP,  as just two months after its release, Morrison was found dead in a Paris apartment. L.A Woman is a fitting end to the career of a true genius.

Tags: Jim Morrison, L.A Woman, Mancunion Recommends, review, The Doors

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