THE DOORS: “L.A. Woman” (Elektra) Review

Published in Melody Maker

The best album The Doors have ever done was put out a couple of months ago. It was called “13” and it was a compilation essentially of their singles and a few others cuts. In fact, it might have been re-titled “The Doors Greatest Hits.”
In a way, it was an unwise move to release it, because it only served to point out the poverty of their work in the past two years. Morrison’s obscenity trial has undeniably hurt the band but the sign was on the window long before that.
This album stands as their nadir, a spunkless, sterile effort that sounds as if it’s been put out just so’s everyone won’t forget the name, and of course the name is Jim Morrison. The Doors have always had two things going for them: ability to throw some catchy riff together in a brief context (that’s why they have always been more successful on singles than albums): and Jim Morrison, who was built up as America’s answer to Mick Jagger. Morrison, as Mick Farren pointed out in this paper last week, has always been a mediocre singer, but he’s disguised it to an extent by his ability to come on like some rock Messiah.
More power to his elbow. I suspect however, that to most people now he’s just another rock singer, that his trial has knocked some of the flash off him and on this album he sounds deadly tired and mechanical; it becomes even more obvious here how monotonous is his voice, how it never rises above one level of intonation. He’s still got the aspirations – he does Hooker’s “Crawling King Snake” (very poorly) and a number called “The Changeling” (definition – elf-child substituted for human one), but no longer the conviction.
The rest of the album, with the exception of “Riders on the Storm” which has some effective electric piano (Ray Manzarek has always kept things very simple while establishing the basic texture of the music), has the same staleness. “Cars Hiss By My Window” ARTICLE CUTS OUT
…style, of Jimmy Reed’s “Baby, What’s On Your Mind,” and includes some awful caterwauling from Morrison right at the end. “L.A. Woman” the title song, sounds half the time like “Johnny B. Goode.” It’s all so obvious that originality has left them.