The original Doors’ penultimate studio album, 1970’s Morrison Hotel, arrived at a time of uncertainty for the group. Their previous LP, The Soft Parade, had proved a commercial success but had garnered lukewarm reviews because of relatively weak material and a plethora of string and horn arrangements. Adding to the sense that the band might be winding down were singer Jim Morrison’s legal troubles: his arrest shortly before The Soft Parade‘s release, for allegedly exposing himself at a Miami concert, had led to cancellations of subsequent shows; and he had been arrested again during the recording of Morrison Hotel, this time for drunken behavior on an airplane.
Though he was indeed on a downward spiral-and would die in July 1971, at age 27-he and the band still had a lot of life in them in late 1969 and January 1970, when they recorded the bluesy, Paul Rothchild-produced Morrison Hotel. The album finds them getting back to basics and delivering a strong batch of new performances that avoid The Soft Parade‘s missteps while recalling their earlier strengths.