The DOORS – ” L.A. Woman Sessions ” Record Store Day 2022 4 LP Set

Posted: April 24, 2022 in MUSIC

We cannot wait for Record Store Day 2022, the party that’s become the Largest Single Day Music Event in The World. In celebration of the 15th annual celebration, we are thrilled to announce the “L.A. Woman Sessions“, which is being released as a limited-edition 4-LP set on April 23rd.

On a slate chalk board, Jim wrote the words “A Clean Slate,” as to define the moment.

Hear the progression of each song on “L.A. Woman” as it developed in the studio. Includes the original demo of “Riders On The Storm” newly remixed from the original multitrack session tapes. Previously only available on CD as part of the “L.A. Woman 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition“.

The Doors had crammed several lifetimes into just five years as band, and by late 1970, the psychic toll of Jim Morrison’s addiction and legal hassles threatened to overwhelm the group. Any attempts at making an album under these conditions should have met with unmitigated disaster, but on “L.A. Woman” the final Doors LP released during Morrison’s lifetime the band succeeded almost in spite of themselves. Self-produced and recorded in their private rehearsal space, the album was a homecoming in both a musical and spiritual sense. “Our last record turned out like our first album: raw and simple,” drummer John Densmore reflected in his autobiography. “It was as if we had come full circle. Once again we were a garage band, which is where rock & roll started.”

Morrison left on an extended trip to Paris as the final mixes were being prepared, hoping to rediscover his muse in the City of Light. He would never return: The singer died there in July 1971. As his final recorded work with the Doors turns 45, here are some surprising facts about the creation of “L.A. Woman“.

L. A. Woman” got off to an inauspicious start in November 1970, when the band played their new material for producer Paul Rothchild. They possessed only a handful of semi-complete tunes, and Rothchild was less than impressed. He dismissed “Riders on the Storm” as “cocktail music,” but reserved particular scorn for “Love Her Madly,” which he cited as the song that drove him out of the studio. “The material was bad, the attitude was bad, the performance was bad,” he said in the Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive. “After three days of listening I said, ‘That’s it!’ on the talk-back and cancelled the session.”

They convened for an emergency meeting at a nearby Chinese restaurant, and Rothchild laid his cards on the table. “I said, ‘Look, I think it sucks. I don’t think the world wants to hear it. It’s the first time I’ve ever been bored in a recording studio in my life. I want to go to sleep.’” With that, the so-called “Fifth Door,” who had produced the band since their debut, walked out. Once the shock had worn off, the Doors turned to engineer Bruce Botnick, whose credits included all of their previous albums, as well as the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, and the Rolling Stones’ Let It Bleed. With his help, the reinvigorated band vowed to coproduce their new album. Gone were the days of Rothchild’s studio strictness, where it was normal to record 30 takes or spend hours on perfecting a drum sound. “Rothchild was gone, which is one reason why we had so much fun,” Robbie Krieger told Guitar World in 1994. “The warden was gone.”

Eschewing the high tech luxury of Sunset Sound, the Doors decided to record in their unassuming “workshop” at 8512 Santa Monica Boulevard. “It was the room we had rehearsed in forever,” recalled John Densmore in the documentary Mr. Mojo Risin. “Our music was seeped into the walls. We were very comfortable. It was home.” Like a fraternity common room, the cramped space was littered with empty beer bottles, dog-eared magazines, an endless tangle of cables and assorted instruments – plus a jukebox and pinball machine. “It was tight,” says Botnick, who was ensconced in the upstairs office behind a portable mixing board. “It was like sardines.” 

During takes, Morrison would grab his gold Electrovoice 676-G stage mic and sing in the adjoining bathroom, which served as a provisional vocal booth. The room’s tile provided impressive natural acoustics, and he ripped the door off its hinges to better commune with his bandmates. The building has changed hands several times since the Doors recorded there, but its most recent incarnation – a bar, appropriately – paid tribute to the sessions with a plaque in the bathroom stall.

The cartwheeling “L’America” predates the “L.A. Woman” sessions by more than a year. The track had been intended for inclusion in Antonioni’s 1970 psychedelic drama, Zabriskie PointThe Italian auteur had notably tapped the Yardbirds for 1966’s Blow-Up, and it appeared he might do the same this time around with the Doors. He visited the band in the recording studio, but their intensity not to mention volume proved too much for him to handle at close range. “We played it for him, and it was so loud, it pinned him up against the wall,” Manzarek told L.A. Weekly in 2011. “When it was over, he thanked us and fled.” Predictably, the song was not included in the film. The Doors were in good company – Jerry Garcia, John Fahey and Pink Floyd also had work rejected from the soundtrack.

The lyrics for “L.A. Woman‘s” lead single the Doors’ first to crack the Top 40 since “Touch Me” two years earlier – were born out of a particularly noisy fight between Robbie Krieger and his future wife, Lynne. “Every time we had an argument, she used to get pissed off and go out the door and slam the door so loud the house would shake,” he said in “Mr. Mojo Risin“. But the title borrows a signature phrase from Duke Ellington, who would end every concert with the sign-off, “We love you madly.” Krieger’s bandmates, 

Aside from “L’America,” which was already in the can, the basic tracks for “L.A. Woman” came together in just six days spread between December 1970 and January 1971. Mixing took an additional week, but that’s still a blink of an eye compared to the nine months it took to complete the Doors’ cumbersome 1969 work, “The Soft Parade“. The rapid pace ensured that the mercurial Jim Morrison, whose short attention span often led him towards destructive tendencies, remained focused and on his best behaviour. During a single session, which the singer dubbed “blues day,” they enthusiastically tackled “Cars Hiss By My Window,” “Been Down So Long,” “Crawling King Snake” and several other loose jams.

When the band gathered at Poppi Studios early January 1971 to mix “L.A. Woman” with Bruce Botnick, they made some last minute embroideries to their epic album closer. Thunderstorm sound effects were added to “Riders on the Storm,” but Morrison had a more subtle contribution: two ghostly whispers of the song’s title on the fadeout. The eerie send-off is even more haunting in retrospect. “That’s the last thing he ever did,” Ray Manzarek told Uncut. “An ephemeral, whispered overdub.” The song was released as the album’s second single, entering the Billboard charts on July 3rd, 1971 – the day Jim Morrison died.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.