The Doors’ Solid Rock of “Morrison Hotel”

Released on February 9, 1970, it remains a timeless album

The Doors’ Solid Rock of “Morrison Hotel”

After the sales flop of their 1969 album “The Soft Parade” and the boycott to their music by the mainstream audiences due to the 1969 Miami incident, The Doors abandon all the failed orchestration formula that they’ve tried on their previous album and presents “Morrison Hotel” on February 9, 1970. A solid, bluesy, hard and rocking album with a mature and unpretentious songwriting, a sort of comeback of The Doors reputation as one of the best Rock bands in the world and also the opening of a door to a new era: the 1970’s. The album is the first where Robby Krieger guitar gets more prominent and heavier, features the anthem and concert staple “Roadhouse Blues”, the opening track, Blues Rock at it’s best, everything’s there, an intro with a bluesy catchy guitar riff, harmonicas, Morrison’s vocals tuned and matured, one of The Doors best guitar solos and epic lyrics. This was not the song the band thought would be the big hit coming out of the album, but it was this song that made the critics love The Doors again and to this day one of Rock music biggest classics. The whole album it’s cohesive, there is an obvious care about the songs to be featured on it, the order of it, the proof that The Doors didn’t need an orchestra to do very good music. The album consists mainly of songs written by Jim Morrison, undoubtedly a great songwriter, and that is reflected on the appropriately titled “Morrison Hotel”. “Waiting For The Sun”, despite being songs recorded during the sessions for their third album with the same name, that possibly would fit better on it, it’s one of the greatest ones present on it. The blend of Hard Rock and the band’s classic dark/moody/mysterious music vibe it’s superb. “You Make Me Real”, the band’s bid for the first single of the album, it’s a great moment too, when performed live, especially during the 1969-70 concerts sounds powerful, sounds fat and solid, it’s Rock music, without any pretensions. “Peace Frog” lyrically one of the best songs in the album starts with a catchy funky guitar riff that is present throughout the song, except during a part where Jim Morrison invokes his childhood story of how a dead Native American possessed his body when he was five. “Peace Frog” lyrics are perhaps some of the most biographical that Morrison ever wrote, when he touches subjects like the mentioned one about his childhood episode and when he sings “Blood In The Streets Of New Haven” with a discrete background spray sound effect, which alludes to his onstage arrest in New Haven back in 1967 after being maced by the police.

“Blue Sunday” it’s a love song, fresh and with the classic Doors vibe. “Ship Of Fools” and “Land Ho!” are solid songs that link well together but not the strongest in the album, although the “Land Ho!” dark interlude marks the difference in Doors fashion. “The Spy” it’s one of the best songs from the band, a soft jazzy song inspired on the Anaïs Nin book “A Spy In The House Of Love”, the Morrison discreet literary reference that was a rule to have in all of the band’s albums. “Queen Of The Highway”, curiously one of the most forgotten songs in the album it’s also one of the best, lyrically flawless, transports the listener to one of those desert highways that Morrison loved so much. “Indian Summer”, a gentle song, that was one of the first to be recorded by the band when they were formed makes it’s way back in “Morrison Hotel” played exotically in Indian style, it could have been easily a song composed by George Harrison. The album closes with “Maggie M’Gill”, the bluesiest of the whole songs in the album, again, another song that is often forgotten despite being one of the best the band did. Besides The Doors themselves, the band features three other guest musicians being perhaps the brilliant Lonnie Mack who plays bass guitar on “Roadhouse Blues” and “Maggie M’Gill” the one that shines the most but also John Sebastian from The Lovin’ Spoonful who due to contractual issues couldn’t had his name appearing as it is on The Doors album, instead he’s featured as G. Puglese, and plays harmonica on “Roadhouse Blues”, also featured is Ray Neapolitan, session musician who plays bass guitar on the tracks “Waiting For The Sun” and “Queen Of The Highway”. In “Morrison Hotel” The Doors return to being an unity that musically communicates with each other, something they had somehow lost during the previous two albums, it may not be the best introduction to The Doors music, but it’s definitely some of their best music and a timeless Rock classic.

The Historical Morrison Hotel and Hard Rock Cafe Connection

The Doors were the first to introduce the name “Hard Rock Cafe” on mainstream music, The band went to do the photo shoots for the album cover with photographer Henry Diltz in downtown Los Angeles in a skid-row neighborhood where they found the actual “Morrison Hotel” and just across the street from it, there was a corner bar named “Hard Rock Cafe” where they’ve shot the back and inside pictures featured on the cover. They end up splitting the name of the record by titling Side A “Hard Rock Cafe” and Side B “Morrison Hotel”. The story goes that later that year, they got a letter from a British entrepreneur who was thinking about opening a restaurant chain dedicated to Rock music and asked for permission to use the name “Hard Rock Cafe”…

Side A: Hard Rock Cafe
1 “Roadhouse Blues” (Jim Morrison, music by The Doors)
2 “Waiting For The Sun” (Morrison)
3 “You Make Me Real”(Morrison)
4 “Peace Frog”(Morrison, Krieger)
5 “Blue Sunday”(Morrison)
6 “Ship of Fools”(Morrison, Krieger)

Side B: Morrison Hotel
7 “Land Ho!”(Morrison, Krieger)
8 “The Spy”(Morrison)
9 “Queen of the Highway”(Morrison, Krieger)
10 “Indian Summer”(Morrison, Krieger)
11 “Maggie M’Gill”(Jim Morrison, music by The Doors)

Jim Morrison: lead vocals, maracas, tambourine
Ray Manzarek: tack piano on tracks 3 and 8, Gibson G-101 organ on tracks 2 and 5, Vox Continental organ on tracks 4, 6, 7 and 10, piano on tracks 1 and 8, Wurlitzer 140B electric piano on track 9, Fender Rhodes Piano Bass on track 10, Hammond C-3 organ on track 11, RMI Electra piano on track 2.
Robby Krieger: guitar
John Densmore: drums

Additional Personnel
Lonnie Mack: bass guitar on tracks 1 and 11
Ray Neapolitan: bass guitar on tracks 2 to 9
John Sebastian (as “G. Puglese”): harmonica on track 1

Produced by:Paul A. Rothchild
EngineeredBruce Botnick
Recorded during: August 1966, March 1968, November 1969 – January 1970
Released: Elektra Sound Recorders, Los Angeles, California
Label: Elektra

“You Make Me Real/Roadhouse Blues”, Released: February 1970

Strongest tracks:
“Roadhouse Blues”, “Waiting For The Sun”, “You Make Me Real”, “Peace Frog”, “Queen Of The Highway”, “The Spy”, “Indian Summer”, “Maggie M’Gill”

Watch the music video for “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors

Listen to the album “Morrison Hotel” on Spotify

Watch more The Doors related videos


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David Warren

David Warren is editor and author for Pop Expresso reach out at

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