By the end of 1970, The Doors were done as a live act. Jim Morrison still had the legal ramifications of the Miami incident hanging over him and the band played what was to be their last concert with him that December in New Orleans. They weren’t done as band, however, retreating to the studio to cut their legendary L.A. Woman album. The story of that record and the tumultuous times it was created in are documented in Doors – Mr. Mojo Risin’: The Story of L.A. Woman.
When the band got to the studio, they had no energy and the songs were lifeless. Longtime producer Paul Rothchild noticed this and refused to work on the record, describing some of the music as cocktail music. Initially distraught, the band decided to record with their engineer, Bruce Botnick, who suggested recording the album in their rehearsal space. This made all the difference in the world. The band was re-energized and finally able to finish their gritty swansong with Morrison.
Still, Morrison had grown weary of being the singer in a rock band, wanting to pursue his writing more. Rolling Stone‘s David Fricke, who is interviewed for the DVD, suggests the lyrics to the album’s lead-off track, “The Changeling,” anticipate his leaving the band. L.A. Woman produced three songs that remain staples on rock radio to this day, including the title track, “Love Her Madly” and the jazzy “Riders On The Storm,” which was inspired by a jam of Vaughn Monroe’s version of “(Ghost) Riders In The Sky: A Cowboy Legend.”
During the mixing process, Morrison decided that his parts were done well enough and he announced to the band he was leaving for Paris. Less than four months later, he was dead. Keyboardist Ray Manzarek said the day Morrison left was the last time he ever saw him.
Elvis Presley’s bassist, Jerry Scheff, played bass on a number of tracks on the album, including the title track. Morrison was excited to be playing with a member of Presley’s band. While both Manzarek and drummer John Densmore speak highly of him in the documentary, Scheff is not interviewed himself. Neither was Marc Benno, a rhythm guitarist who played on the record, freeing Robby Krieger to play more leads.
The DVD shows modern recreations of the albums parts by Manzarek, Krieger, and Densmore and features Botnick at the control board mixing in and out some of the more interesting parts of the songs. This provides the viewer a good look at how these songs were composed and why. The DVD includes 35 minutes of footage not broadcast on TV and a newly created photomontage to accompany the previously unreleased track, “She Smells So Nice.”
L.A. Woman would be the final release by the Doors in their original incarnation. Though the surviving members made two more albums in the 1970s as a trio, it was not the same to most fans. The Doors – Mr. Mojo Risin’: The Story of L.A. Woman paints a vivid picture of a fractured band with a troubled lead singer in his final days coming together to create one of their most enduring works.
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