Side One: Mint Minus to Mint Minus Minus
Side Two: Mint Minus Minus
- This outstanding copy of The Doors' 1970 release boasts solid Double Plus (A++) sound from start to finish - fairly quiet vinyl too
- This vintage pressing is well balanced, yet big and lively, with such wonderful clarity in the mids and highs as well as deep punchy bass and a big open and spacious soundfield
- Roadhouse Blues, Waiting For The Sun and Maggie McGill are KILLER on this pressing - all you Doors fans are gonna flip
- Circus Magazine praised it as "possibly the best album yet from the Doors" and "Good hard, evil rock, and one of the best albums released this decade."
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Too many pressings aren't rich and full-bodied enough to allow Jim Morrison to sound right. He's The Lizard King, not The Frog Prince for crying out loud. When he doesn't sound big, powerful, and borderline scary, what's the point?
Not to worry. On the best sides, he sounds amazing. Just listen to him screaming his head off on Roadhouse Blues and projecting the power of his rich baritone on Blue Sunday. Nobody did it any better.
All the other elements are really working too -- real weight to the piano, amazing punch to the bottom end, lovely texture to the guitars and so on. The sound is clean and clear but not overly so; you still get all the Tubey Magic you need. It's super transparent with a three-dimensional soundfield that you can hear RIGHT INTO. You will have a very hard time doing any better.
The sound of the organ on Blue Sunday is superb!
What the best sides of Morrison Hotel have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1970
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange -- with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
No doubt there's more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
To hear the best sound on side two, drop the needle on The Spy -- you won't believe how much ambience there is! The clarity is stunning and there's amazing depth to the soundfield. Check out the wonderfully dry drum sound on Maggie M'Gill. Be forewarned -- you're gonna want to turn this one up loud!
Man, it is almost impossible to find Doors records that sound like this. It's hard to find clear Doors records at all these days, we find a small handful each year -- not nearly enough to do these shootouts as often as we would like.
Both sides here have the deep, rock-solid bottom end this music absolutely demands. You've got to hand it to Bruce Botnick -- he knows how to get real rock-'em sock-'em bottom end onto a piece of magnetic tape.
What We Listen For on Morrison Hotel
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next -- wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information -- fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering -- which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency -- the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren't "back there" somewhere, way behind the speakers. They're front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt -- Bruce Botnick in this case -- would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing -- an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Mint Minus Minus and maybe a bit better is about as quiet as any vintage pressing will play, and since only the right vintage pressings have any hope of sounding good on this album, that will most often be the playing condition of the copies we sell. (The copies that are even a bit noisier get listed on the site are seriously reduced prices or traded back in to the local record stores we shop at.)
Those of you looking for quiet vinyl will have to settle for the sound of later pressings and Heavy Vinyl reissues, purchased elsewhere of course as we have no interest in selling records that don't have the vintage analog magic that is a key part of the appeal of these wonderful recordings.
If you want to make the trade-off between bad sound and quiet surfaces with whatever Heavy Vinyl pressing might be available, well, that's certainly your prerogative, but we can't imagine losing what's good about this music -- the size, the energy, the presence, the clarity, the weight -- just to hear it with less background noise.
Speaking of heavy vinyl...
Just for fun we recently played the Universal 180 gram reissue of Morrison Hotel. I have to admit that initially it was pretty good, but as time went on, the artificiality became more apparent -- and annoying.
Just listen to the vocals -- they're all wrong. Morrison has one of the richest and most distinctive voices in the history of rock. When it doesn't sound like the guy I've been listening to for close to forty years, something ain't right. And what ain't right -- not to put too fine a point on it -- is the sound of that record.
Waiting for the Sun
You Make Me Real
Ship of Fools
Queen of the Highway
The Doors returned to crunching, straightforward hard rock on Morrison Hotel, an album that, despite yielding no major hit singles, returned them to critical favor with hip listeners. An increasingly bluesy flavor began to color the songwriting and arrangements, especially on the party 'n' booze anthem "Roadhouse Blues."
Morrison Hotel was, upon its release, seen by many as a comeback for the Doors following the critical failure of The Soft Parade and the Miami incident of 1969. Dave Marsh, the editor of Creem magazine, said of the album that it was: "the most horrifying rock and roll I have ever heard. When they're good, they're simply unbeatable. I know this is the best record I've listened to ... so far", while Rock Magazine called it "without any doubt their ballsiest (and best) album to date". Circus Magazine praised it as "possibly the best album yet from the Doors" and "Good hard, evil rock, and one of the best albums released this decade". ~ Wikipedia
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