After a couple of albums that were more noted for hit singles that smacked too much of pop music for their fans, namely 1968's "Waiting for the Sun" with "Hello, I Love You" and 1969's "The Soft Parade" with "Touch Me," the Doors got back to their roots with "Morrison Hotel." This is clear from the opening track on this 1970 album, the rock 'n' booze anthem "Roadhouse Blues," which blasts this album into the stratosphere. Robbie Krieger's opening riff sets the tone and Ray Manzarek pounds away on the piano to establish the mood, with the whole thing capped off by Jim Morrison's vocalized howls. You can hear live versions of "Roadhouse Blues," but unfortunately none of them were ever performed in the perfect locale, which would have been a bar. But you can imagine how great it would sound to hear this one blasting the top off of some juke joint.
There are not any hit singles on the group's fifth studio album, which is undoubtedly why it went over better with the fans of the Doors, even if it only made it to #4 on the Billboard album charts. To help validate the blues the Doors brought in the great sessions jazz guitarist Ray Neopolitan, albeit as a bass player (the Doors never really bothered with one). The requisite touch of the exotic can be found in songs like "Waiting for the Sun," "Queen of the Highway," and "Indian Summer." Morrison, who was noticeably disengaged in terms of both his lyrics and his singing on previous albums, is back to waxing poetic big time, as evidenced by "Ship of Fools," which mixes nihilistic imagery with prospects for hope. Again, Morrison is found commenting on the counterculture, singing about how "Everyone was hanging out/Hanging up and hanging down/Hanging in and holding fast." Musically the instrumental break is where the group gets to indulge in some showmanship where the emphasis is decidedly on jazz and no longer on pop.
The other great track is "Peace Frog," which comments on the "Blood in the streets," but is more notable for Morrison's musings on an episode from his childhood in some of his most searing imagery (e.g., "Indians scattered on dawn's highway, bleeding to death") and poetic (e.g., "Blood is the rose of mysterious union"). Again, Krieger and Manzarek provide the appropriate musical accompaniment to the verbal images of cultural unrest as the end of the turbulent Sixties being thrown out by Morrison. The Doors often commented on what was happening in the streets without ever offering a solution, and this song is one of their best efforts in that regard. One final track of note remains, and that would be the slow blues tune "The Spy," simply because its music, if not its lyrics (e.g., "I know the word that you long to hear/I know your deepest, secret fear"), anticipates the last great Doors song to come on their final album, "L.A. Woman."