by Dave Marsh
The Doors are truly the most American rock and roll band I’ve ever heard; like this country, when they’re good, they’re unbeatable and when they’re awful, they’re horrifying. And sometimes they’re horrifyingly good.
It isn’t just that Jim Morrison is a real, or imagined, motherfucker, nor that Robby Krieger is probably the best unknown guitarist in rock and roll or even that Ray Manzarek plays both piano and organ execruciatingly well on this record. It’s beyond that; it’s beyond it’s beyond Morrison screaming “SAVE OUR CITY!” Which is a most patrioticly Amerikan thing to do, ain’t it?
It begins in the strangest of places, back where you hadn’t expected it, like America do, with John Densmore. Densmore has to be a drummer of great power and strength merely to be a Door but he is much than that. Things I never realized about anyone’s music; exactly how important the drummer is, holding things down so they don’t get too dissonant at the top. Densmore is fast when he needs to be fast (“You Make Me Real”) eerie on “Indian Summer” where he needs to be, and the rest of the time is the bottom. (Remember, half the time the Doors don’t bother to use a bass.)
Robby Krieger is just a plain, unadulterated bitch, on this record his playing becomes very distinct, much more so than on the other where he always seemed to be overshadowed by Morrison or Manzarek. Krieger, the representative of the wrath of the silent majority. I don’t want to carry the analogy too far; but his explosion into real life, like the birth of a revolutionary cadre behind Nixon’s favorite slogan, is just so unexpected. On “Hard Rock Café” he plays Keith Richard rock riffs the way they always wanted to be played (but only Keith, previously, could play them). He explodes on “Waiting for the Sun”, is unobtrusive where that’s necessary, complements Morrison perfectly on “Indian Summer”, the masterpiece Doors song forever, just like “The End” used to be.
Manzarek is just Manzarek to the nth degree. A nightchild prodigy, he plays piano like no one else, plays organ so distinctively that you wonder why anyone else would bother (and it is he that introduced organ playing to a whole lot of people; how else explain the Vanilla Fudgies or Brian Augers? Mere Manzarek imitators, they leave you cold, cold, cold.)
Morrison, the epitome of the Doors, the epitome of all of us, carrying his sometimes horrifying, sometimes absurd, always potent vision out to the realms of America where they really need him. Like Jagger he offers no sanctuary (Like Jagger he also suggests where to find it; “You can’t always get what you want” croons Mick; “BLOOD SCREAMS THE PAIN AND CHOPS OFF MY FINGERS”, Morrison counters.)
I believed in the Doors when nobody else was listening; I still love the mellow “Runnin’ Blue” and the eerie “Soft Parade” from their last album. Morrison, I still say, is the most subversive dude on the planet; sounding innocuous on “Wild Child” or “Touch Me”, whipping his cock out in Miami, Phoenix, or Baltimore. Where they really need him. And we really need the Doors, just like sometimes we need the Stones or the Stooges.
The Doors always make it real. Morrison just doesn’t bother trying to justify his mental voyeurism, he simply writes a song about it and the others back him perfectly. “I’m A Spy” sounds like southside Chicago on LSD.
We’re all a while lot simpler than that, though; something we’re just beginning to find out. Not like Dylan, who is attempting simplicity became simplistic. No, Morrison makes the simplicity more real; he sings a carnal rock and roll sea chanty, screams “Land Ho” in the midst of it. Up against the mast motherfucker!
The Five’s new album is a joke after “Maggie M’Gill”; here is the true “Back in the USA” band. Morrison knows what it’s like on the seamy side of rock and roll. Writing Tennessee Williams lyrics for a rock and roll song:
“Miss Maggie M’Gill she lived on a hill
Her daddy got drunk and left her no will
She went down, down to Town
The people down there, they
Really like to GET IT ON!”
“Illegitimate son of a rock and roll star
Mom and Dad in the back of a rock and roll car”
The holy triumvirate of rock and roll, Iggy, Morrison, Mick. All of them in bands perfectly built around their styles; here is where you can find out why Ray Manzarek is so great. Those quick little piano things, never finished on “Hard Rock Café,” the acid organ on “Blue Sunday” or “Queen of the Highway.”
Robby Krieger has everything down, down to the point where you listen as much for what he leaves out as for what he puts in. The ace rock and roll guitarist.
How Fuckin’ American can you get? “I woke up this mornin’ and I got myself a beer/ The future’s uncertain and the end is always near.” Have mercy. There is none.
And when the threaten you know the potentialities in each of us for horror. “Waiting waiting waiting.” Oh, the Doors are always there; and isn’t there always someone you can bleed on?
I know Morrison is the Lizard King; you know Morrison knows he is the Lizard King. Believe it. The Doors are masters of us all. Always waiting, to meet us at the orgon “blue bus”. Or Merely “Waiting for you to come along”. We have.
And when I get up to turn the roecrd over, again and again and again, I know this is the best record I’ve heard all year. And maybe will. And that it really doesn’t matter because the Doors are the Lizard Kings and the energy they make us see and feel is our own energy, slimy lizard, reptilian energy. America the land of dinosaurs.
“Blood on the streets in the town of New Haven”; we’re all murderers at heart and it’s all out in front here. I know this is a most horrifying rock and roll and I know the Doors have presented us with the best record I’ve ever heard. So far.