Some artists create their most intense work when they hit rock bottom: See Vincent van Gogh, Billie Holiday, Nick Drake and Jim Morrison, whose final album with the Doors is a Southern California death trip that matches anythingin their catalog for beautifully spooked rock & roll urge-purging. Made amid professional train wrecks and personal downward spirals, it’s a surprisingly focused set, in part a return to the Doors’ blues-rock roots. Morrison’s hot baritone killed, Robby Krieger’s guitar is laser-guided, and “The Changeling” and “Been Down So Long” are garage-style classics. Even the sprawling set pieces,“Riders on the Storm” and “L.A. Woman,” are formal masterpieces, bound by exacting grooves and precise solos. This reissue coincides with Greil Marcus’ The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years, which is far more illuminating than the bonus tracks.“She Smells So Nice” is a forgettable bar-band boogie, “Rock Me”a generic slow blues that fiddles with Morrison’s iconic “Mr. Mojorisin’ ” incantation. The alternate takes are all lesser versions interspersed with studio chatter and other audio vérité – the sound of a band enjoying its work, unaware its time was nearly up.
Listen To: “L.A Woman”: