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The Doors – L.A. Woman (1971)

In remembrance of legendary keyboardist Ray Manzarek, I present you with a “Classic Album Tuesday” of The Doors celebrated L.A. Woman. The last Doors album to be recorded with Jim Morrison (who would die three months after its release) L.A. Woman is The Doors at their nittiest and grittiest. Tired of recording in the upscale Sunset Sound studio, The Doors opted to record their sixth album in their own L.A. practice space. Working alongside producer Bruce Botnick (also co-producer of the classic Forever Changes by Love) and Elvis Presley bassist Jerry Scheff, L.A. Woman recaptures the raw intensity of the band’s early work.

Primarily recorded live, sans a few keyboard overdubs by Ray Manzarek, L.A. Woman feels more like a live album than a studio album. There’s a drunken rambunctious fervor that not only makes the album playful but honest. Even a deteriorating Jim Morrison still had enough chutzpah to give the music just the right amount of “Umph!” Fun fact: Jim Morrison recorded his vocals in the studio’s bathroom to get a fuller sound. Crude? Maybe, but in the end product it only adds to the down ‘n dirty style of L.A. Woman.

The material is primarily blues rock oriented. With songs like “Been Down So Long” and “Car Hiss By My Window” you wonder if Morrison was singing while laid back with a bottle of jack and a mouth full of Texas BBQ. And of course you have the jam based title track. A song that feels as if it was made up right on the spot during band practice. It also spawned one of Morrison’s classic lyrics “Mr. Mojo Risin” a memorable anagram of his own name.

Non-blues cuts include the undeniably catchy pop song “Love Her Madly” and the famously mysterious “Riders on a Storm”, one of Manzarek’s most hypnotic performances and a superb swan song to Morrison’s career. It’s hard to say what would’ve happened to the band had Morrison lived. Either way we still got six solid albums and memories that will last until the end.

Favorite Tracks: “Hyacinth House,” “Love Her Madly,” “Riders on the Storm”