Posts Tagged ‘Morrison Hotel’

The Doors returned to their roots and were reborn a rock and roll band on “Morrison Hotel”, the group’s fifth studio album. 1970 was more than the dawn of a new decade. It was also the end of an era.

The year began with the breakup of the Beatles, wrapped up with the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin and was also hallmarked by any number of other musical convolutions. The Rolling Stones did not release a new studio LP, The Who were still struggling to follow up “Tommy,” and rock ’n’ roll itself was on such shaky ground that, when the critics looked around and tried to prophesy what the “Next Big Thing” was going to be, most of them settled upon the crop of singer-songwriters who — let’s be honest here — would barely have gotten a look in a year or two before. And then The Doors released “Morrison Hotel,” and, for 40 marvelous minutes or so, it was worth waking up in the morning again.

For this new collection, the original album has been expanded with more than an hour of unreleased recordings taken from the sessions for Morrison Hotel. These 19 outtakes transport listeners into the studio with Jim Morrison, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, and Ray Manzarek for an unprecedented perspective on the making of the album. Botnick says: There are many takes, different arrangements, false starts, and insightful studio conversations between the band who were in the studio and producer Paul Rothchild  who was in the control room. It’s like being a fly on the wall.

Several of these unheard recordings spotlight how Queen Of The Highway and Roadhouse Blues evolved across multiple sessions. It’s especially interesting to hear how the band played with different bass players on Roadhouse Blues. Early versions include Harvey Brooks, who played on the band’s previous album, “The Soft Parade”. Later takes feature guitar legend Lonnie Mack on bass along with The Lovin Spoonful’s John Sebastian on harmonica who, due to contractual restrictions at the time, had to be credited as G. Puglese.

Among the treasure trove of unreleased outtakes are also rough versions of Morrison Hotel tracks Peace Frog and Blue Sunday, as well as The Doors rarity I Will Never Be Untrue. The collection also captures some incredible session outtakes of the band jamming on cover versions of the Motown classic Money (That’s What I Want) and B.B. King’s Rock Me.

Completed in only a few weeks and released in February 1970, the hard-charging album took its name from the skid row hotel in downtown Los Angeles that’s featured in the iconic cover photo taken by Henry Diltz. Morrison Hotel: 50th Anniversary Deluxe edition includes the original album newly remastered by the Doors’ longtime engineer and mixer Bruce Botnick, plus a bonus disc of unreleased studio outtakes, and the original album on 180-gram virgin vinyl. the music will also be available from digital and streaming services the same day. for this new collection, the original album has been expanded with more than an hour of unreleased recordings taken from the sessions for Morrison Hotel. “There are many takes, different arrangements, false starts, and insightful studio conversations between the band – who were in the studio.

“Morrison Hotel” is not the sole glimpse into this new-found funkiness around these days. Earlier this year, a staggering six CDs of live material culled from The Doors’ four-show residency at the Felt Forum in New York provided us with the most complete examination yet of The Doors as a working band. The shows catch The Doors firing on every cylinder, a blazing rock ’n’ roll band at the height of its creative and improvisational powers.

Plus, says Manzarek, New York was the Doors’ favourite place to play. “The New York audience was always interesting. London was great, and Los Angeles was good. But New York was the best, and you can feel that in the live show.”

“Morrison Hotel” was still several weeks away from release at the time of the Felt Forum shows, but much of the album was already firmly nestled in the live set, including the song that remains the new record’s definitive track, the opening “Roadhouse Blues. “What a signature lick. That’s all you have to hear, and you know what that song’s meant to be. And that great last stanza by Morrison… ‘I got up this morning and got myself a beer.’ Is that rock ’n’ roll or what?”

On that evidence alone, Manzarek says, “‘Morrison Hotel’ was definitely back to roots, back to basics. Great songs. In fact, the only thing it lacked was, as we called them, an epic. There was no song over five minutes. We didn’t have a ‘Light My Fire,’ ‘When The Music’s Over’ or ‘The End.’ But so what?”.

“Indian Summer” was an outtake that dated back to “the very first day of recording for the first album. We found it in our bin of stuff. There was us, our producer Paul Rothchild and our engineer Bruce Botnik, and we wanted a simple little song so we could get the sound down. So we did ‘Indian Summer’ and then went into ‘Moonlight Mile.’

Revamped and with much of it rerecorded, “Indian Summer” emerged as one of the most unexpected treats on the new album. But pressed to name his favourite, Manzarek has little hesitation in pointing to another song whose genesis dated back a few years, “Waiting For The Sun.”

The song was originally intended as the title track to The Doors’ third album, back in 1968. “We loved the title so much that we called the album ‘Waiting For The Sun,’ the artwork was done, but the song wasn’t ready. It hadn’t come out of the oven yet. Never mind, nobody will know there’s the song called ‘Waiting For The Sun’ as well. So when it did finally come out on ‘Morrison Hotel,’ people went — wait a sec! But I’m glad we waited, because it came out a stunning piece of music.”

So is the rest of the set, an album that drives from the opening punch of “Roadhouse Blues” to the closing grind of “Maggie M’Gill,” and, in between times, launches such future Doors favourites as “The Spy,” “Ship Of Fools” and “Land Ho!”.

Dave Marsh at Creem called The Doors’ fifth album “the most horrifying rock and roll I have ever heard,” and that was a compliment. “When they’re good, they’re simply unbeatable.” It was the best record he’d heard all year. Rock Magazine and Circus unanimously agreed that it was The Doors’ best record yet, and while it was maybe a little early to be making such pronouncements (‘Morrison Hotel’ was released in February 1970), Circus described it as “one of the best albums

“Roadhouse Blues” is a rock song written and recorded by the American rock band The Doors. The song, which appeared along with the B-side of “You Make Me Real”, was first released as a single from the album Morrison Hotel in March 1970 and peaked at number 50 on the U.S. Billboard chart, The song quickly became a concert staple for the group, a live version appearing later on the posthumous album An American Prayer and that same version, which has been called “probably one of the best live performances of any song”,again on In Concert and Greatest Hits. During this version, Jim Morrison talks for a short while to a female audience member about his Zodiac sign and, with a sudden, ironic twist that causes the audience to erupt in laughter, denounces his beliefs in it. The song was also featured twice in the movie The Doors; the studio version in the film, and the aforementioned live version over the end credits. The line “Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer” was inspired by Alice Cooper as stated on his Planet Rock morning show.

The song took two days to record in November 4th and 5th, 1969) with the producer Paul A. Rothchild striving for perfection. Several takes from these sessions were included on the new 2006 remastered album. Surprisingly, he does not comment on Morrison, who is apparently intoxicated, “going into full blues singer mode” in the words of engineer Bruce Botnick, improvising and simultaneously fluffing several lyrics and repeating the blues phrase “Money beats soul every time”. The phrase can be found on the When You’re Strange: Music from the Motion Picture soundtrack, with the next track being a live version of “Roadhouse Blues”.

The sessions only took off on the second day, when resident Elektra guitarist Lonnie Mack joined in on bass and harmonicist John Sebastian (appearing under the pseudonym G. Puglese out of loyalty to his recording contract or to avoid affiliation with The Doors after the Miami controversy joined in on the sessions and Ray Manzarek switched from his Wurlitzer electric piano to a tack piano the same used on The Beach Boys “Good Vibrations” A studio version of the song with John Lee Hooker sharing vocals with Jim can be found on the Stoned Immaculate: The Music of The Doors album.

A long-standing misconception states that Lonnie Mack contributed the guitar solo on the track in addition to bass guitar, despite only being credited for the latter. In actuality, guitarist Robbie Krieger is responsible for all guitar parts on “Roadhouse Blues” and Mack’s contribution is limited to bass guitar; Jim Morrison shouts “Do it, Robby, do it!” where the single vocal track can be separated from other instruments, at the start of the guitar solo. The solo on record is representative of Robbie Krieger’s finger style playing and is identical to all his Roadhouse Blues solos played in the previous sessions the day before on 5th November 1969. Subsequent interviews with members of The Doors and Paul A. Rothchild confirm this.

The complete song was fully composed and rehearsed before Lonnie Mack was invited to play bass on Roadhouse Blues and Maggie M’Gill (Ray Neapolitan, regular bass player during Morrison Hotel sessions, couldn’t arrive on time that day due to a traffic jam). Drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robbie Krieger provided additional details about the Roadhouse Blues sessions which are quoted here:

According to the book, Light My Fire by Ray Manzarek, a bandmate of Morrison’s, the song refers to Morrison’s waking after an alleged three weeks of drug-induced sleep and the actual lyric sung is “woke up this morning and I got myself a beard”.

<em>Morrison Hotel</em> (1970)

“Morrison Hotel” (sometimes referred to as Hard Rock Café from the title of the first side of the LP, with the second side titled “Morrison Hotel” is the fifth studio album by the American psychedelic rock band The Doors, recorded from between August 1966 and November 1969 and released by Elektra in February 1970. The group went back to basics and back to their roots. On this album, there is a slight steer towards the  blues sound, which would be fully explored by the band on their next album, “L.A. Woman“.

Between Jim’ Morrison’s, tour-killing obscenity charge (stemming from a Miami concert where he may or may not have exposed himself on stage), declining sales, and the negative reviews given to their previous two albums, many people gave up on The Doors.  but “Morrison Hotel” , with its tougher, back-to-basics sound, reestablished them as America’s greatest rock & roll band. It became a Top 5 album, but it’s only single, “You Make Me Real,” didn’t even make the Top 40. Still, “Roadhouse Blues” (the single’s b-side), “Peace Frog,” and “Waiting For The Sun” have since become some of The Doors’ best-known songs.

The cover photo was taken at the actual Morrison Hotel located at 1246 South Hope Street in Los Angeles. The band asked the owners if they could photograph the hotel and they declined, so the band went inside when nobody was looking and took the photograph anyway.  The desk Clerk wouldn’t let the Doors shoot their cover shot in the Lobby, but when he stepped out for his break photographer Henry Diltz stayed outside the hotel, snapping away while the band rushed inside and gathered behind the hotel’s now famous window. The rear cover features a photograph of the Hard Rock Café on 300 East 5th Street, Los Angeles.  The founders of the later and otherwise unrelated Hard Rock Cafe chain used the name, having seen it on the Doors’ album. The original cafe is no longer open. After they wrapped up their hit-and-run cover shoot, The Doors hit LA’s skid row to grab a drink. They settled in to a dive called the Hard Rock Café, where Diltz took the photo for the album’s back cover. After the album came out, two guys called to ask if they could use the name of the bar for a new restaurant they were opening in London, paving the way for hundreds of restaurants, hotels and casinos. When it was originally released on vinyl, side one of Morrison Hotel was labeled Hard Rock Cafe. Side two was Morrison Hotel.

One of Morrison Hotel’s most revered cuts was actually supposed to be the title track to an earlier album. “The artwork was done, but the song wasn’t ready,” said keyboardist Ray Manzarek. It took a year, but they finally got “Waiting For The Sun” right.


You’d think having your hotel on the cover of a seminal rock album would inspire you to fix up the place and raise the rent, but the owners of the Morrison were among LA’s most notorious slum-lords. By the time the hotel was shut down, they’d been convicted on 21 counts of violating fire, safety and health codes, with the city citing vermin infestations, broken heaters, lead poisoning, and raw sewage leaks among the offenses.

Even though no major hit singles were drawn from the album, “Morrison Hotel” re-established the Doors as favorites of the critics, peaking at No. 4 on the US album chart. The album also became the band’s highest charting studio album in the UK,

For the 40th anniversary the album was re-released in completely remixed and remastered form. This practice extended to incorporating vocal and instrumental components which were not part of the original album. According to Ray Manzarek, “There are background vocals by Jim Morrison, piano parts of mine that weren’t used and guitar stingers and solos by Robby Krieger that never made the original recordings that can now be heard for the first time.


Lonnie Mack, who plays bass on “Roadhouse Blues” was better known as a top-shelf blues guitarist. In fact, Stevie Ray Vaughan said that, as a kid, he practiced guitar to one of Lonnie’s albums so many times his dad destroyed it.
The stripped-back recording sessions toughened up and focused The Doors on stage as well as in the studio. Before it was even released, “Roadhouse Blues” became a fixture in their set lists and many fans still consider it their best live cut.