“I woke up this morning and got myself a beer,” and with those lyrics, The Doors were off and running with one of the best albums of their career.
The Doors released their fifth studio album during February of 1970. Morrison Hotel and the album which followed, L. A. Woman, would be the culmination of their career.
Robbie Krieger was the primary creative force behind their last album,The Soft Parade, but now Jim Morrison stepped to the forefront again. His fusion of a blues/hard rock sound with his poetry opened a new chapter in the band's career. The album was a critical and commercial success. Despite not containing any huge hit singles, it still reached number four on the American charts.
This is an album that just makes sense and hangs together well. I was working for my college radio station when it was released and remember many of the songs being in heavy rotation. My personal copy received a lot of play on my turn table at the time, and I still give it a spin every now and then. Forty years has not lessened the enjoyment or impact of this release.
“Roadhouse Blues” is the first track and sets the tone for the album. It is straight ahead rock ‘n’ roll. Lonnie Mack was the bassist but also played the sophisticated lead guitar runs even though he was unaccredited in the album notes. The final track, “Maggie M’Gill,” is a fine blues rocker and is a nice bookend for the album. There was also a lot of good material in between these two rocking tracks.
I don’t know why “Waiting For The Sun” was left off the prior album of the same name, but this slowing building track is excellent. “Peace Frog” with its social commentary and wah-wah guitar intro is one of the classics in the Doors' catalogue. It also segues into “Blue Sunday,” which is a nice change of pace.
There are a number of other very good to excellent tracks. “Queen Of The Highway” was a rocking tribute to girlfriend Pamela Courson. “Indian Summer” has a simplistic beauty. “Ship Of Fools” has a wonderful soulful vocal by Morrison. “You Make Me Real” may be filler but it is superior filler.
Morrison Hotel is raunchy, energetic, and explosive. It is bar band music at its best. It remains a superior testament to one of rock’s enduring bands.