It’s funny how certain records have such a strong impact that you can not only remember the music well, but you can also remember the actual circumstances when you bought the original. The Doors’ “L.A. Woman” is one such. I have a such vivid memory of Guildford High Street at night, walking opposite Harveys with this record in my hand that I can actually see the colors of the street lamps reflected in the shop window glass as I looked into them. And this was 30 years ago.
The curious thing is that these memories are of a time before I actually heard the L.P.. I stopped at “The Seahorse” and had a couple of pints of Gales “H.S.B.” before going home (enough to get me well pickled) and then played it. I had avoided buying for a long time because certain critics in the New Musical Express has dismissed it, particularly in comparison with the first two Doors albums (“The Doors” and “Strange Days”), and at the time I tended to believe the critics. “L.A. Woman” was the first record that told me that critics could be as wrongheaded as the rest of us. I was captivated by the sound, mood and drive of the record. I would not say it was my favorite Doors’ album – the more praised “The Doors” and “Strange Days” deserve their accolades – but it is outstanding nonetheless. “Riders On The Storm” became a favorite song, and still is. “L.A. Woman” is not far behind. It meant more to me as a teenager than it does now, mostly because it keyed into emotional state that was more of those times than today, but it remains a key record in my own growth and appreciation of outstanding rock music. Today, The Doors seem to be in a critical slump, quite possibly because of no less than two periods of wild popularity in the 1960s and, oddly enough, also in the 1980s, but they will endure.