When L.A. Woman was released on April 29, 1971, only insiders knew it was the epitaph for a band. No one expected that, three months later, Jim Morrison would die in Paris. Everyone then thought The Doors’ sixth album was also the singer’s last word. That was true until 1978, when the surviving members added music to Morrison’s spoken word recitations and released An American Prayer. But that was a special tribute , not a full-fledged Doors album.
Thereafter, L.A. Woman was been re-mastered and expanded in various incarnations including the 40th anniversary collection released in 2011. Now, director Martin R. Smith and producerJeffrey Jampol have edited a very fitting tribute to the album. The documentary should please any fan and help newcomers understand why this LP has such a significant role in rock history.
The heart of this anatomy of a classic, of course, is new interviews with Ray Manzarek, Robbie Krieger, and John Densmore who discuss the contexts of the times and how they helped shaped the lyrics and sounds. Each demonstrate the instrumental foundations they created to support and inspire the lyrics of every track. Insightful commentary is added from Doors insiders like Jac Holzman, founder of Elektra Records, their manager Bill Siddons, and engineer Bruce Botnick who helmed the sessions after past producer Paul Rothchild left the studio justifiably saying the early tracks were boring him. By all accounts, after Botnick suggested the group record in their own rehearsal hall, the energy soared with the group returning to its jamming, blues roots. Enthusiasm went even higher when Elvis Presley's bass player, Jerry Scheff, agreed to play on the record.
It’s clear all participants have special fondness for the album. The process was full of good times that were part of its creation and all feel pride for what resulted—“Love Her Madly,” “Riders on the Storm,” the title song, John Lee Hooker’s “Crawling King Snake,” and “The Changeling” among the highlights. It’s fun to hear how “Riders on the Storm” evolved from a jam of the country hit, “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” and how Manzarek drew from a Blood, Sweat and Tears song called “House in the Country” for one of his organ solos.