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Why I ❤️ The Doors' L.A. Woman, by Stranglers' bassist Jean-Jacques Burnel

The Doors LA Woman cover art
(Image credit: Elektra Records)

When The Stranglers started out, a lot of people used to say: ‘Oh, those guys were influenced by The Doors.’ 

There was no way we could deny it. It helped that in Dave Greenfield we had someone that could outplay Ray Manzarek, even playing in fifths and thirds. He had the keyboard style of Manzarek without having heard of The Doors. 

L.A. Woman first came into my life when I was a student up in Yorkshire; I’d dropped some acid. After that I never looked back. It was the soundtrack to an important time in my life, as I left home and got up to all sorts of mischief. 

If you want the truth, I became a bit obsessed by L.A. Woman. There was a time when I became the local bore, always going on about it. As something of a zealot, I developed a habit of giving away that album to people that I felt should hear it. Over the years I must’ve bought it seven or eight times. 

It wasn’t until many years later that I stepped back and realised that L.A. Woman is a blues album. It’s also quite hard-rocking, but the effects on the organ are great. Most of the album sounds as though it was recorded live, which probably has something to do with the fact that they had just parted company with long-time producer Paul A. Rothchild. 

Their engineer, Bruce Botnick, stepped up to co-produce the sessions with the band. That’s the problem with downloading: you miss out on all the important credits that give so much pleasure to the anoraks. I still like something to read.

Back in the days of vinyl, the songs that ended each side – L.A. Woman and Riders On The Storm – were inspirational. Because of that, for a few years The Stranglers tried to close our own albums with a couple of epic songs. 

L.A. Woman and Riders On The Storm are by far its best-known songs, but as a record it’s extremely consistent. I love the way that Robby Krieger finger-picks as well as strums the guitar. 

Sadly, L.A. Woman was the last Doors album before the death of Jim Morrison in July 1971. They were finished by the time I stumbled upon them the following year, so I never got to see them live. In later years as a musician myself, my path failed to cross with any of the band’s surviving members, which was a bit of a shame. 

I did go out and buy the rest of their catalogue. For me, though, L.A. Woman will always be The Doors’ finest work. It’s my zeitgeist, and although I don’t play it as much as I used to I still love it.

Interview by Dave Ling.