Morrison Hotel

The Doors

Elektra Records, 1970

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Reviewing bands that have achieved cult status is the worst.

You may find one small flaw in the album, and as soon as the review hits the press, airwaves or Internet, the rabid-like fans make it seem like you thought the album was the biggest piece of crap in the world. (Imagine the reaction you'd get if you did say the album was crap - I did this with Pearl Jam on HitsWorld, and I am still sorting through the hate mail.)

So, I hope LizardKing1 from Firefly will not think I am the worst reviewer in the world when I make my judgment on Morrison Hotel by The Doors: it's a solid album, though the formula wears thin by the end.

By the time this album came out, Jim Morrison and company were in a creative slump. Their previous album, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Soft Parade, was their worst-seller to that point, despite it being their most adventurous. The band needed a shot in the arm - which today's review subject certainly was.

Morrison Hotel is actually two albums - one per side - but each one seems to keep a bluesy feel about it (though the music jumps from blues to ballads). The best-known song on this one, "Roadhouse Blues," featured bass work from popular blues guitarist Lonnie Mack , though the sessions he played on were allegedly tense - one interview I remember reading with Mack had him claiming he came close to punching Morrison out.

Stories aside, "Roadhouse Blues" is a decent Doors track, though it painfully shows guitarist Robbie Krieger's limitations as a lead guitarist. To his defense, his leads are much more fluid when he's playing in a jazz-tinged vein. Kreiger shows his talents as a rhythm guitarist on tracks like "Waiting For The Sun," which is also a powerful vehicle for Morrison's vocal talents. (It also is a good example of the talents of keyboardist Ray Manzarek and drummer John Densmore.)

The whole first side (labeled "Hard Rock Cafe") is great. However, the most powerful moment on the album is the two-song set "Peace Frog" and "Blue Sunday," which is Morrison at his most moving probably in his entire career. I found myself going back to these two songs repeatedly, surprised at the quality I was hearing.

The second side of the album (the side labeled "Morrison Hotel") is a small step backwards for The Doors. It starts off okay with "Land Ho!" and "The Spy," but the remaining songs tend to fall short of the mark. Maybe it is because the rest of the album is of such a high caliber that otherwise great songs pale in comparison, I don't know. (If this album does anything else, it proves that The Doors needed a regular bass player. Mack's work with the band lifted the music to new levels with his steady backbeat.)

If someone who is not a huge Doors fan is looking for an album to start with (besides one of the best-of collections out there), Morrison Hotel is a great place to start. Even in the album's weakest moments, it's still pretty good - and not many artists can pull that trick off.

Rating: B

User Rating: B+



© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.