Classic Rock Review

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The Doors LA Woman: The Workshop Sessions (2012)

51LIgTkWQdLFrom amazon.com

No this one isn’t just another reissue of the well known album but also one for the discerning Doors fans and collectors, featuring as it does different versions of 7 of the 10 tunes (exceptions being “Hyacinth House” (unfortunately as it is a beautiful song), “L’America” and “Crawling King Snake”) plus the unissued “She Smells so Nice”/Rock me Baby”. There’s also the image of Morrison crucified on a telegraph pole included with the early original vinyl issue on a poster and on the inner sleeve (referred to here as “Electric Woman”).

They were all recorded in The Doors Workshop at the time of the “LA Woman” sessions (hence the title of the double vinyl edition, “The Workshop Sessions” (which features only the alternate versions and unissued tunes). The quality of the alternative versions is, as one would expect, excellent of course and I’m surprised that they have never appeared before though that’s probably down to the cynical record company penchant for making maximum money off old material (not that I am a cynic myself, you understand).

Enough has been said about the original album so I’ll concentrate here on the alternative versions. I haven’t actually compared any of them to the originals, merely listened to the unreleased ones and said what comes to mind, but I can say with certainty that most of the alternate versions are less polished than those used on the album and, indeed, sound at times like demos at times rather than alternate takes or versions. One does, in fact, mention the take number, which probably means that none of them are actually demos. Studio chat features too.

“The Changeling”, which Jim tells the band is his favourite number, is longer at nearly 5 minutes and powers along at around the same speed as the album version but with a different keyboard riff. It is, perhaps, more powerful and certainly bluesier with more raucous lead guitar. A few bum notes slip in but do not spoil the overall feel of the song.

“Love Her Madly” features a lazier Morrison vocal with different lyrics and a totally different keyboard section in the middle.

“Been Down So Long” is probably the least different alternative, much the same as the album version apart from being a bit rougher and longer.

The slow, dirty, blues of “Cars Hiss by My Window” seems to feature somewhat more prominent guitar than the LP version and is 30 seconds longer.

“LA Woman” meanwhile features different lead guitar riffs and a weird bit of extra vocalising brings it to a sudden end at 8.45.

“The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)” features different lyrics and is 1.20 longer than the album version but this comprises a cacophony of jazzy guitar and drums with no discernible tune. There’s an instrumental version thrown in too.

Clocking in at 2 minutes longer than the original, “Riders on the Storm” could have been the jewel in the crown here, were it not for the fact that the extra time is occupied by a throw away Morrison ditty, false start and chat occupying the first 2 minutes plus a somewhat flat Morrison vocal, especially evident at the start of the tune proper.

Finally, music-wise, you get the addition of an actual unreleased song, “She Smells so Nice”, which morphs into “Rock Me”, but both are pretty much of filler or single B side standard and it`s no wonder they were not used on the “LA Woman” album proper or indeed anywhere else.

As stated earlier this 2 LP 180 gram vinyl version features only the alternative versions spread over 3 sides. The lyrics of the original versions of the alternative songs are etched onto side 4. The gatefold sleeve features a largely white mock up of the “LA Woman” sleeve with recording details, credits and a replica of the striking image of a naked Morrison crucified on a telegraph pole that came as a poster and on the yellow inner sleeve of early copies the original vinyl LP (mine’s in the loft). Though the image is referred to as “Electric Woman” on a set packaging sticker, I always understood it to be Morrison and it does look like it could be him.

For the current price, 3 sides of music in a gatefold sleeve seems like pretty good value. Buy it this way if you still have a record deck and do not want another copy of “LA Woman” on CD.

I fail to understand why the other reviewer gave this 2* rating and inferred Rhino had screwed up again based on the sole comment of a lack of the promised etched image on side 4. Rhino’s Doors screw up was in the £100+ vinyl box issued a couple of years ago and not this. Just ignore the differing etchings and the 2* rating and enjoy the brilliant music.

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May 27, 2013 Posted by | The Doors LA Woman: The Workshop Sessions | | Leave a comment