The Doors’ Rollicking Alternate Take of ‘Roadhouse Blues’: Listen

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Morrison Hotel (Photo: © Henry Diltz; used with permission)

The Doors are celebrating the golden anniversary of their fifth studio album, Morrison Hotel, with a special deluxe edition. The original album, released in February 1970, includes such fan favorites as “Roadhouse Blues” and “Peace Frog” as the group returned to their roots and were reborn a rock ’n’ roll band. Morrison Hotel, the group’s fifth studio album and fifth consecutive gold-certified record, took its name from the Skid Row hotel in downtown Los Angeles that’s featured in the iconic cover photo taken by Henry Diltz.

To commemorate the album’s 50-year anniversary, Rhino released a 2-CD/1-LP set on October 9 that includes the original album newly remastered by The Doors’ longtime engineer and mixer Bruce Botnick, plus a bonus disc of unreleased studio outtakes, and the original album on 180-gram virgin vinyl. Listen to many of them below.

On October 1, a rollicking alternate take of the classic “Roadhouse Blues” was released, complete with Jim Morrison’s spoken intro. “Can you dig it?”

Listen to a previously unreleased take of “Peace Frog/Blue Sunday” from the collection.

For this new edition, the original LP has been expanded with more than an hour of unreleased recordings taken from the album sessions. These 19 outtakes transport listeners into the studio with Jim Morrison, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, and Ray Manzarek for an unprecedented perspective on the making of the album.

In the Aug. 20 announcement, Botnick says: “There are many takes, different arrangements, false starts, and insightful studio conversations between the band – who were in the studio – and producer Paul Rothchild – who was in the control room. It’s like being a fly on the wall.”

More from the announcement: Several of these unheard recordings spotlight how “Queen of the Highway” and “Roadhouse Blues” evolved across multiple sessions.

It’s especially interesting to hear how the band played with different bass players on “Roadhouse Blues.” Early versions include Harvey Brooks, who played on the band’s previous album, The Soft Parade. Later takes feature guitar legend Lonnie Mack on bass along with The Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian on harmonica who, due to contractual restrictions at the time, had to be credited as “G. Puglese.”

The collection also captures some session outtakes of the band jamming on cover versions of the Motown classic “Money (That’s What I Want)” and B.B. King’s “Rock Me.” See the complete track listing below.

Rock journalist David Fricke tells the tale behind this classic album in the set’s detailed liner notes. He writes: “As spring turned to summer in the last year of the 1960s, The Doors were a band in suspended animation. Singer Jim Morrison, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore were off the road and in serious legal jeopardy after Morrison’s profane meltdown during a show at Miami’s Dinner Key Auditorium…The Doors were also exhausted and uncertain of their recording future after the protracted studio drama and uneven experiment of their fourth album, The Soft Parade…It was a season of chaos and anxiety. But The Doors were on the road to Morrison Hotel.”

Manzarek said of Morrison Hotel, “Let’s go back to the blues. Let’s get dark and funky.”

Related: Manzarek talks about all 6 Doors’ studio albums

Morrison Hotel 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Track Listing

Disc One: Original Album
Side One: Hard Rock Cafe
1. “Roadhouse Blues”
2. “Waiting For The Sun”
3. “You Make Me Real”
4. “Peace Frog”
5. “Blue Sunday”
6. “Ship Of Fools”
Side Two: Morrison Hotel
7. “Land Ho!”
8. “The Spy”
9. “Queen Of The Highway”
10. “Indian Summer”
11. “Maggie M’Gill”

Disc Two: Mysterious Union
Black Dressed In Leather (Queen Of The Highway Sessions)
First Session (11/15/68)
1. “Queen Of The Highway” (Take 1, She Was A Princess) *
2. “Queen Of The Highway” (Various Takes) *
3. “Queen Of The Highway” (Take 44, He Was A Monster) *
Second Session (1/16/69)
4. “Queen Of The Highway” (Take 12, No One Could Save Her) *
5. “Queen Of The Highway” (Take 14, Save The Blind Tiger) *
Third Session (Date Unknown)
6. “Queen Of The Highway” (Take 1, American Boy – American Girl) *
7. “Queen Of The Highway” (Takes 5, 6 & 9, Dancing Through The Midnight Whirlpool) *
8. “Queen Of The Highway” (Take 14, Start It All Over) *
9. “I Will Never Be Untrue” *
10. “Queen Of The Highway” (Take Unknown) *
Money Beats Soul (Roadhouse Blues Sessions)
First Session
11. “Roadhouse Blues” (Take 14, Keep Your Eyes On The Road) *
12. “Money (That’s What I Want)” *
13. “Rock Me Baby” *
Second Session
14. “Roadhouse Blues” (Takes 6 & 7, Your Hands Upon The Wheel) *
15. “Roadhouse Blues” (Take 8, We’re Goin’ To The Roadhouse) *
Third Session
16. “Roadhouse Blues” (Takes 1 & 2, We’re Gonna Have A Real Good Time) *
17. “Roadhouse Blues” (Takes 5, 6 & 14, Let It Roll Baby Roll) *
Dawn’s Highway (Peace Frog/Blue Sunday Session)
18. “Peace Frog/Blue Sunday” (Take 4) *
19. “Peace Frog” (Take 12) *

* Previously unreleased

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