A special year of music for the Doors

Doug Gallant
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This year is the self-proclaimed year of the Doors.

And to mark the occasion the surviving members of the iconic rock band and their associated record labels have undertaken a number of special projects.

The first of those projects to see the light of day is a special 40th anniversary edition of L.A. Woman, the band's final studio album with charismatic lead singer Jim Morrison.

An exemplary recording, L.A. Woman reached Billboard's Top 10 the year of its release, powered by three of the most memorable songs in the Doors catalogue: L.A. Woman; Love Her Madly and what has to be one of the greatest rock songs of all time, Riders on the Storm.

This album, perhaps more than any other album the group released, was inspired by the blues.

It's gritty, it's gutsy, it's got attitude and it's got Morrison at the top of his game.

They were writing well together and they were playing well together.

You have to wonder how much longer they would have played together and how their music would have evolved if Morrison had not died shortly after the completion of this record.

There are a couple of good reasons to pick this set up, even if you already have a copy in good condition.

First, the anniversary edition includes a second disc featuring nine previously unreleased tracks.

Most of those tracks are alternate versions of cuts on the original recording, including Love Her Madly, Riders on the Storm and Cars Hiss By My Window.

Fans will take a special interest in some of the alternate takes because they include snippets of studio conversations between Morrison and bandmates Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore.

In one of the most interesting conversations Morrison suggests, for the first time, that they add the thunderstorm sound effects which became an integral part of Riders on the Storm.

The re-issue also includes a couple of real surprises, such as a flat-out boogie tune called She Smells So Nice, which last month became the first new song released commercially by the band in 40 years.

The song, discovered by co-producer Bruce Botnick while reviewing the L.A. Woman session tapes, premiered on the band's Facebook page and was then released as a single on iTunes.

The other track featured on the second disc is a great version of Rock Me.

If you want to delve a little further into this record you should pick up a copy of Mr. Mojo Risin', a new DVD/Blu-Ray which tells the story of L.A. Woman.

The DVD features new interviews with Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore, as well as clips from the founder of their record label, Jac Holzman, their original manager, Bill Siddons, their engineer/co-producer Bruce Botnick and others.

There are live and studio performances by the band and some rare archival photos.

The music footage is both interesting and insightful.

If you know nothing about the Doors other than the fact you like what you hear on classic rock radio this DVD would help you learn quite a bit more.

The documentary was made with the full involvement, approval and co-operation of the Doors.

Several other Doors' re-issues are in the works, but the real treasure could be a major box set coming down the pipe later this year, possibly in September.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Doug Gallant, a reporter with The Guardian, writes his music review column for The Guardian every week. He welcomes comments from readers at dgallant@theguardian.pe.ca or 629-6000, ext. 6057.


Organizations: The Guardian

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