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4.5 out of 5 stars27
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on 7 February 2004
Amazingly, Morrison Hotel marked a return to form for the Doors - and what a return to form! Gone the brass of the Soft Parade and the psychedelia of Strange Days, replaced by a ballsy, raw, bluesy sound. And Morrison's voice had gained depth and soul - the upside of heavy smoking?. There isn't a duff song here. Roadhouse Blues is the textbook road song - and full of classic quotes. Ship of Fools, Land Ho, Maggie M'Gill all plough a similar bluesy furrow. But other songs conjure other moods, take Blue Sunday and Indian Summer for example. These are soft, atmospheric songs. Indian Summer sounds different too because it was recorded four years earlier in 1966 during the recording sessions for the first album. Notice the difference in Morrison's voice!
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on 29 October 1999
This has to be one of the best albums ever made by the Doors in my opinion. The range of differences in the album make it so interesting to listen to. For example if you listen to a song such as Peace Frog it has a superb drum beat and bass line that intermingles with Jim Morrison's vocal talent, thus creating a more hard hitting rock feel than the usual Pschadelic feel associated with the Doors. But, on the other hand, if you were to take a song such as Indian Summer you can almost feel the psychadelia coming out of your hifi. Morrison's voice croons softly, the guitar rifts are plucked with an equal delicacy by Robby Krieger to Morrison's calming voice. These two songs are just examples of how fantastic this album actually is. My advice is to buy the album and experience it for yourself because there will never be another band like the Doors.
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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."
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on 11 December 2012
This is the 5th album from The Doors and one of their best. Released in 1970, it kicks off with the incendiary classic 'Roadhouse Blues' - a song of raw power, a good-time blues played with gusto. We then go into the more introspective 'Waiting For The Sun' - but there is a hard edge to this music. "You Make Me Real' is a piano-driven slice of rock leading into the infectious beat of 'Peace Frog'. Then we have the laid-back ballad 'Blue Sunday' with gorgeous vocals from Jim Morrison. There are wonders to discover on this album. 'The Spy' is just sublime. "Indian Summer' is the sound of a flower-power West Coast summer's day with beautiful guitar playing throughout. 'Maggie McGill' is as good a blues-rock track as you'll find. This is The Doors with a rough, bluesy edge and the whole album works wonderfully. Recommended.
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on 19 March 2011
The Doors are one of the best bands ever, if not THE best. And they themselves wrote almost all the songs on their 6 studio albums.
But one word of warning - if you want the original authentic recordings DO NOT BUY the "remastered" cds released in 2007 as these are actually remixes. Buy the remastered series of cds released around 1989, of which this is one.
Incidentally I saw the Doors at the 1970 Isle of Wight Pop Festival and they were fantastic - the best act there.
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on 27 September 2013
This gets 5 stars not because it's the best Doors album, although it's still excellent, but because it hasn't 'suffered' too much from the interfering of the Remastering Brigade. Why don't they just leave things alone? The original vinyl is the best, this comes a close second.
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The general perceived wisdom is that the Doors made two outstanding records at the outset and then it was a story of continual decline except for the odd highlight track until Jim Morrison's death in a bath in Paris. Well, listening to the remastered set of Doors CDs, leaves one feeling that 40 odd years on that initial assessment may be up for challenge.

The reason being that listening now to "Morrison Hotel" one is not left feeling that this was a group in exit mode. Instead it was one that could still lay down a full set of energetic and memorable songs all well sung and played and well recorded and produced by the duo of Paul Rothschild and Bruce Botnick. The three musicians show yet again why LA always had a harder edge than SF in the late 1960s when it came to playing rock and blues. While a number of songs may recycle prior ideas not least due to Morrison's continual plagiarising of book titles to inpsire his song writing, they are none the worse for that.

When it came out this record got panned based largely on people's memories of those first two recordings and claims of it being just more of the same. However the lack of over inflated workouts ("The End" and "When the music's over") and a better focus on shorter and sharper songs plus a greater energy and sense of rock and roll ("Roadhouse Blues" & "You make me real") make for my ears a much better overall set. Special highlight is Robbie Krieger's guitar playing throughout of short and memorable solos and licks - a continual joy and sadly heard too little of post the Doors demise. It is no surprise that such energy was also on show in the subsequent Live double LP set.

With the final recording "LA Woman" yet to come, "Morrison Hotel" has no sense of decline or despair about it - it is just great music that as a whole is a much more enjoyable listen in 2006 than the now rather thinner sounding first two LPs.
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on 30 August 2002
Even though I'm a big Doors fan, I still haven't heard The Soft Parade, which apparently isn't too good. This album was the follow up, and an almighty effort it was too. The powerful opener "Roadhouse Blues" is fantastic and became a popular live song for the band to perform (one of which is heard on "The Best Of" album). "Waiting For The Sun" is equally as unique and powerfull, with surreal noises eminating from the background as Morrison croons lovingly over the top. "You Make Me Real" is another classic Doors song, but it's the truly funky "Peace Frog" that keeps things rolling nicely. One of their most controversial songs it indeed is, and at mid-point in the song Jim breaks out into a poem - "Ghosts shroud the children's fragile egg shell minds". The song eases nicely onto the next track "Blue Sunday" without the listener noticing, which is a clever technique for the early 70s. Another highlight of the album is the soothing "Indian Summer", which really could have been made longer (it stands at only two minutes and a bit). It seems strange that Morrison missed the opportunity to make another epic, but in the end it just shows their brilliance by being able to produce epics, or be remarkably concise. "The Spy" uses blues as its roots, hinting at what would come in their stunning final album (as the original four piece) "L.A. Woman". Morrison Hotel isn't perfect, though. "Land Ho" is just plain corny and "Maggie 'M'Gill", whilst interesting, is not really worthy of a second listen. On the whole, a strong album that returns the four members to their absolute best, well, almost anyway.
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Back when Rhino were amongst the best reissue labels in the world (with access to unlimited primo material from the prestigious WEA umbrella of labels) – they regularly produced fabulous Box Sets like "The Complete Studio Recordings" by THE DOORS. Their six studio albums from 1966 to 1971 plus one filled-out disc of 'Essential Rarities' – all of them in meticulously reproduced Mini LP Sleeves and with fabulous Remastered Audio (all Stereo).

But while the explosive and hugely influential self-titled debut album "The Doors" along with winners like October 1967's "Strange Days" and July 1969's "Soft Parade" have always gathered the plaudits – for me – my poison has always been their cool Seventies output - especially the first two of the decade – February 1970's "Morrison Hotel/Hard Rock Café" and April 1971's "L.A. Woman". For this review we're going to focus on the first...

Often shortened to just "Morrison Hotel" – their first LP of the new Hard Rock decade was an accomplished blast – a band renewed and ready to take on all-comers. Opening with the fantastic Rock-Blues of "Roadhouse Blues" and working its way to the hooky "Peace Frog" and on the very-Doors sound of "Maggie McGill" – I've always felt it's been overlooked in favour of their more famous predecessors. Let's get to 'the spies in the house of love'…

You can buy the "Morrison/Hard Rock Cafe" album as a March 2007 Rhino single-disc 'Expanded Edition' with 10 Bonus Tracks pretty cheaply – but even though it costs more my preferred tipple is part of an older Box Set that keeps it simple. USA released November 1999 – "Morrison Hotel" the 11-track album is Disc 5 in "The Complete Studio Recordings" Box Set by THE DOORS on Rhino 62434-2 (Barcode 075596243421). This beautifully presented reissue is a 5½ x 5½-inch CUBE BOX with a flip-ribboned-lid (the artwork is a collage of Elektra records album sleeves). Inside are 8 slots – one for the sumptuous booklet and 7 albums in oversized 5½” card repro sleeves (one of which is a Rarities set). The STEREO mixes have been used for all six Studio albums and "Morrison Hotel" plays out as follows (37:24 minutes):

Side 1 'Hard Rock Café':
1. Roadhouse Blues
2. Waiting For The Sun
3. You Make Me Real
4. Peace Frog
5. Blue Sunday
6. Ship Of Fools

Side 2 'Morrison Hotel':
7. Land Ho!
8. The Spy
9. Queen Of The Highway
10. Indian Summer
11. Maggie M’Gill
Tracks 1 to 11 are their 5th studio album "Morrison Hotel/Hard Rock Café" - released 12 February 1970 in the USA on Elektra EKS 75007 (April 1971 in the UK with the same catalogue number). Produced by PAUL A. ROTHCHILD – it peaked at No. 4 in the USA and No. 12 in the UK.

This box set hits you on two fronts – and in my book – the two that matter – sound and presentation. Housed in individual slots - the attention to detail on the Repro Card sleeves is just superb. The CDs for 1 to 3 have Brown Elektra Records labels, 4 and 5 have Red and 6 is the Butterfly variant as per the 1967 to 1971 vinyl albums. "Strange Days", "The Soft Parade" and "Morrison Hotel" have their Inner Bags repro’d with “The Doors” and “Waiting For The Sun” all with Elektra Records Label Bags (and gatefolds where applicable). And of course there’s the beautiful die-cut sleeve of “L.A. Woman” with its plastic and inner yellow bag (very tasty indeed). The Essential Rarities Disc also sports a gatefold card sleeve. The properly chunky and beautifully laid-out booklet is over 60-pages long with essays on each album (time-lined), lyrics to all at the rear and a plethora of period photos and memorabilia peppering the text throughout (liner notes by DAVE DiMARTINO). It’s a fabulous read. And with regard to "Morrison Hotel..." there’s gorgeous out-take photographs by Henry Diltz of the album cover – colour snaps both inside and outside of the 'Hard Rock Café' on East 5th Street, Los Angeles that was featured on the sleeve (the worldwide chain of restaurants filled with music memorabilia took their name from this album).

But all of this is nothing to the AUDIO… Remastered from the original analogue 2-track master tapes to 96K/24-bit digital by BRUCE BOTNIK and BERNIE GRUNDMAN at Bernie Grundman Studios in California in August 1999 – the sound quality is mindblowingly good (Bruce Botnik was the original engineer). Sure there’s been other remasters since and even fatter boxes – but for me – the audio detail presented here has never been surpassed. The only obvious shame is the absence of the rare MONO mixes on 1 to 3 – especially on the stunning debut where the differences are acute (many fans prefer the MONO). But in my book that doesn’t take away from the superlative warmth and presence these remasters have.

Side 1 of the album is called 'Hard Rock Café' and opens with a bona-fide rocking winner – the barroom swagger of "Roadhouse Blues" – a 12-bar tune so good that Status Quo covered it for their "Piledriver" album on Vertigo in late 1972. We return to 60ts weird for "Waiting For The Sun" – a cleverly paced mid-tempo ramble with a Rock riff pumping up the chorus (Robby Kreiger playing up a storm on the guitar). Back to fights in saloons with the barrelhouse piano boogie of "You Make Me Real" - Jim growling out the song title while the band lets rip. But then we get the real deal - a truly fantastic rocker in the shape of the short but brilliant "Peace Frog". You would think with lyrics like "...Blood on the streets runs a river of sadness..." and Jim getting all prophet during the spoken bridge - that the tune is all doom and gloom - but for something so down - it's impossibly poppy and 'so' Doors. The only annoying this is the dead-stop ending that's crudely done on CD but segues into the lovely "Blue Sunday" on the LP. The audio on both of these tracks is sensational. The Side 1 finisher "Ship Of Fools" is another Audio winner - the bass, guitar and organ - all crystal clear and full of presence.

Side 2 opens with a sea-shanty rocker in the shape of "Land Ho!" - I used to dismiss this track but now I love it - catchy as a Californian suntan. "Queen Of The Highway" tells us "...she was a princess...he was a monster...black dressed in leather..." - a chugger with a caustic lyric at its poisonous centre (will things work out for the most beautiful people in the world). Based on the 1954 novel by Anais Nin "Spy In The House Of Love" - Morrison shortens it to "The Spy" - a wicked groove allied with his literary fixations. The album’s most trippy track "Indian Summer" wafts into existence - yet just when you think you have the measure of its floating way - the melody just elevates into something special with Krieger picking away as Jim sings "I love you" - and you can't help but think he means it. It ends on the very-Doors "Maggie M'Gill" where they sound like an angrier Dylan circa "Blonde On Blonde" where Jim roars "...people down there really like to get it on!" If you do buy the box set - Track 3 of the 73-minute 'Essential Rarities' disc offers up a live version of “Roadhouse Blues” recorded at Madison Square Gardens in New York. Superb...

Despite being deleted pretty quickly – "The Complete Studio Recordings" was one of those Box Sets you saw cropping up all of the time. But whilst common once – in 2016 it’s not so much any more - with some dealers trying to procure over £200 for a sealed copy. You can still nail it for under £50 in certain places - and if you can't afford that (you're getting their whole catalogue remember) - then just go for the 2007 'Expanded Edition' single-disc variant that can be procured from many online sellers for less than a fiver (including P&P).

"...I'm a spy in the house of love..." - Jim Morrison sang on "The Spy" and "...I've been singing the Blues ever since the world began..." on "Maggie M'Gill" - like fate was already hanging over him - passing through - not staying - just observing before he moved on to something better.

Impossibly cool and still brilliant - "Morrison Hotel/Hard Rock Cafe" by The Doors needs to be in your home in any incarnation...
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on 9 November 2009
Probably the third best Doors album behind the debut and "L.A. Woman", this one rocks quite comprehensively. Highlights are the way "Peace Frog" blends into the beautiful "Blue Sunday" and the start-stop of "You Make Me Real" with its honky-tonk piano riff. There's no single track to touch "Riders On The Storm" or "The Crystal Ship", but it's a solid effort. I prefer it to "Strange Days" where the production is oddly lacklustre.
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