The Doors: Morrison Hotel – [Record 187]
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 American psychedelic rock band The Doors, recorded from between August 1966 and November 1969 and released by Elektra in February 1970.
1. Roadhouse Blues.
2. Waiting for the Sun.
3. You Make Me Real.
4. Peace Frog.
5. Blue Sunday.
6. Ship of Fools.
7. Land Ho!
8. The Spy.
9. Queen of the Highway.
10. Indian Summer.
11. Maggie M’Gill.
Background: After the previous year’s more experimental album The Soft Parade was not as well-received as anticipated, the group went back to basics and back to their roots. On this album, there is a slight steer toward blues, which would be fully explored by the band on their next album, L.A. Woman.
Recording: Morrison Hotel consists of music recorded between August 1966 and November 1969. “Indian Summer” was recorded in late August 1966 during sessions for The Doors. “Waiting for the Sun” began during sessions for Waiting for the Sun in 1968.
Additional session musicians include John Sebastian (credited as “G. Puglese” for contractual reasons) on harmonica and Lonnie Mack on bass and guitar.
Album cover: 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. 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 for business.
Release: Even though no major hit singles were drawn from the album, Morrison Hotel reestablished 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, where it peaked at No. 12.
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.”
Reception: Morrison Hotel was, upon its release, seen by many as a comeback for The Doors following the critical failure of The Soft Parade and the Miami incident of 1969. Dave Marsh, the editor of Creem magazine, called the album “the most horrifying rock and roll I have ever heard. When they’re good, they’re simply unbeatable. I know this is the best record I’ve listened to so far”, while Rock Magazine called it “without any doubt their ballsiest (and best) album to date”. Circus praised it as “possibly the best album yet from The Doors” and “Good hard, evil rock, and one of the best albums released this decade”.