L.A. Woman Released 45 Years Ago
When The Doors released the L.A. Woman album April 19th 1971, their recording contract with Elektra was coming to an end. Morrison had already said as far back as 1968 that he wanted to leave the band. He was now dabbling in film more than music. He was becoming a bloated alcoholic who's legal troubles from a Miami concert were taking their toll on the group. What's more, producer Paul Rothschild, who had worked on every Doors album, walked out on the sessions calling Riders on the Storm and Love Her Madly “cocktail music”. So the band turned to their longtime studio engineer Bruce Botnick and co-produced with him.
Instead of recording in a studio, the band decided to work in their small and intimate rehearsal space known as The Doors Workshop on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles. It provided a space in which they were comfortable to record, and more affordable than studio time. There was a pinball machine, a jukebox, empty beer cans strewn about, band gear everywhere. This was home for The Doors. There was no vocal booth in which to record, so Morrison performed many of his vocals in the bathroom.
As they had done on previous albums, they brought in a bass player. Jerry Scheff was just coming off gigging with Elvis Presley and he brought a solid groove to many of the songs. He played on every track except L'America which was over a year old.
The album was done quickly. The Doors settled in and over the course of 6 days from December 1970 to January 1971 they recorded tracks for L.A. Woman. By all accounts Morrison was in a good head space during the recordings. He was focused and more excited about the music than he had been in sometime. You can hear his exuberance through the album. Perhaps he knew this might be the last album. He was planning on leaving for Paris indefinitely in the spring effectively putting the band on hiatus.
Although the album may be uneven, the standout tracks are some of the best The Doors have recorded. When L.A Woman was released April 19th 1971, it reached the Top 10, as did the singles Lover Her Madly and Riders on the Storm. In fact the day Jim died, July 3rd 1971 was the day Riders On The Storm entered the charts. And those soft, eerie whispers at the end of the song were his last recorded vocals with The Doors.
The Doors lived more lifetimes in 5 years than most people. This album easily could have been a disappointment. But The Doors' last hurrah turned out to be a solid effort worth delving into.
Off Rock contributor Mike Lang is a long time rock radio broadcaster who is madly in love with an L.A. Woman that he met in Ireland. It's a long story. @theemikelang