It’s funny how a general appreciation for certain bands ebb and flow. Thanks to Oliver Stone and Val Kilmer my generation fell for The Doors big style, to the extent that we placed them up there with yer Beatles and yer Stones for years. Now they seem to have a hit a big dip in their fortunes, whether everyone’s just seen one too many documentaries about ’em, people just think of The Doors as something they fell for once a long time ago, or the survivors have just tried all our patience with their antics*, or has everyone just seen through Mr Morrison’s awfully pretentious musings? Any which way, it seems like there’s not a whole lotta love for The Doors out there right now.
Not me of course, I am/was too cool to follow that trajectory. Well, no, not at all really, but my parents were too cool to let me – guess who saw their only (non-festival) UK show? who owned all their albums? who spooked and enraptured their first-born by playing ‘Riders On the Storm’ late at night on a rainy night in the car? being the rebellious sort, I staunchly ignored them and got myself into cock rock instead – yeah, take that fascist parents! It wasn’t until I was 18 and I had an epiphany when watching the beginning of Apocalypse Now that I fell for The Doors, a bit. Their first and last, proper, LPs are my faves but somewhere along the line I bought Morrison Hotel too.
I bought Morrison Hotel mostly for ‘Peace Frog’ actually and it is still the quintessential Doors track in some ways today. It combines a guitar sound that really didn’t sound out-of-place when I bought it in ’92, a rhythm that forces me to dance, awesome funkiness, oblique personal political comment (‘Blood in the streets in the town of New Haven’), a wanky pretentious spoken word bit and some great organ sounds – all in 2:52. They really don’t make ’em like that any more. What I think I’d failed to grasp until tonight really was how beautifully crafted the segue into the next track ‘Blue Sunday’ was too, the fact that I’m not much of a fan of the latter’s languid, wet-patch post-coitalism is neither here, nor there really.
But there’s me jumping the gun and getting all track-by-track on you, what happened to my fabulous patented sweeping generalisations that don’t bear close scrutiny? well all I will say is that Morrison Hotel marked a real shift back towards the blues after their previous three albums**. Okay so it’s an urban, occasionally urbane white boy take on the blues, but it is basically there behind all on this album – somewhat akin to the puppet master’s hand thrust up the woolly ass of his sock puppet*^.
It’s this blues sensibility that strikes me most tonight, it fair drips off the wonderful ‘The Spy’ which boasts a vocal of real, almost crooner-like, precision from Morrison and of course ‘Roadhouse Blues’, comes slathered in blues rock as standard. In fact I absolutely love ‘Roadhouse’, so much so that I’ve forgiven it for Status Quo. Fact! I love the harp from John Sebastian and the simple, blistering guitar solo from Manzarek. There are very few songs that sound better at 75mph. Double fact! Add in my enjoyment of the heavy-bassed ‘Maggie McGill’, the faintly hippy ‘Indian Summer’ and the dramatic ‘Waiting For The Sun’ and there’s all my favourite bits.
There’s some filler on Morrison Hotel, I can’t ever convince myself to like ‘Land Ho!’, or ‘Ship Of Fools’, but there’s nothing here that crashes my mood the way that ‘L’America’ sometimes puts me off the whole idea of playing L.A Woman. It isn’t a flawless trip at all but I really like Morrison Hotel, it’s a good relaxed listen. It is also an LP that The Doors used to clear away the aural undergrowth in readiness for the band’s final grand act; all that was needed next to achieve total blast-off was an additional two-stone in weight and a big bushy beard. Take it away Jim!
Well, I woke up this morning, I got myself a beer
Well, I woke up this morning, and I got myself a beer
The future’s uncertain, and the end is always near
*Ian Astbury FFS! Come on, he’s a wolf child howlin’ at the moon, not the lizard king!
**two of which I have only heard once in my life, about 25 years ago and one, The Soft Parade, I’ve never knowingly listened to. Oh yes, here at 1537 we pride ourselves on our exhaustive research and shit.
*^memo to self: may want to work on this one a bit.