In the Eye of the Sun
Variety Is the Spice of Life
Ships w/ Sails
Down on the Farm
I'm Horny, I'm Stoned
Hang On to Your Life
Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore had begun recording the album that would become Other Voices in June 1971, in anticipation of Jim Morrisson's return from Paris, but we all know what happened next. And with barely a pause for breath, the three completed the sessions with long-time producer Bruce Botnik, and the first of two Morrison-free albums from The Doors emerged in the autumn.
It wasn’t a seamless transition into a bold new era. Shorn of their shamanic leader, Other Voices didn’t stink the place out but, despite the band’s prowess, lacked focus. The instrumental passages almost make you believe nothing has changed, but the elephant in the room lets out a loud trumpet as passable songs like Tightrope Rode and Hang On To Your Life drift past aimlessly.
Krieger, Densmore and Manzarek were prickly when asked: why? But one senses their dilemma. A portion of Other Voices had been rehearsed with Morrison prior to his departure for France – that much is evident in the structure of certain songs and the vocal phrasing – but there’s no tangible sense of loss, no moments of sombre reflection, just a sense of wiping the slate clean and carrying on.
Every week, Album of the Week Club listens to and discusses the album in question, votes on how good it is, and publishes our findings, with the aim of giving people reliable reviews and the wider rock community the chance to contribute.
Other albums released in October 1971
- Teaser and the Firecat - Cat Stevens
- The Morning After - The J. Geils Band
- 200 Motels - Frank Zappa
- In Search of Space - Hawkwind
- Message from the Country - The Move
- Meddle - Pink Floyd
- Restrictions - Cactus
- American Pie - Don McLean
- Grateful Dead - Grateful Dead
- Chicago at Carnegie Hall - Chicago
- Rough and Ready - The Jeff Beck Group
- Fearless - Family
- Bloodrock U.S.A. - Bloodrock
- Fog On The Tyne - Lindisfarne
- Focus II (Moving Waves) - Focus
- Memories - John Mayall
- Pawn Hearts - Van der Graaf Generator
- Rainbow Bridge - Jimi Hendrix
- Reflection - Pentangle
- R.E.O. Speedwagon - REO Speedwagon
- Stoney & Meatloaf - Stoney & Meat Loaf
- Tupelo Honey - Van Morrison
- UFO 2: Flying - UFO
- War War War - Country Joe McDonald
What they said...
"For a moment, it seems the bad news from Paris was just a hoax. Manzarek’s electric piano, John Densmore’s sure beat, and Robby Krieger’s nimble fingers sound like old times. The only thing missing is a bit of that eat mo’ chicken, honk konk konk from you know who. Of course, the honk konk konk never arrives. Manzarek’s voice isn’t terrible so much as bland (not to mention often pitchy), and that just won’t cut it on a track Morrison would’ve turned into hard cider. " (PopMatters (opens in new tab))
"Another undeniable plus to Other Voices (1971) is that after being relegated as sidemen, each of the players is given an outlet for their songs and under-utilised talents. Manzarek's bluesy opener In the Eye of the Sun has hints of Down So Long and The Changeling. However, its true earmarks are the greasy slide guitar licks proffered by Krieger during the solo, and in response to Manzarek's lead vocal." (AllMusic (opens in new tab))
"As with many albums where the longtime lead singer is not involved, Other Voices is fine as a “Manzarek, Krieger, and Densmore” album. As a Doors album, however, it doesn’t come close to measuring up to their classics. Other Voices showed that Manzarek, Krieger and Densmore had plenty of ideas about where to take the band. Those ideas just weren’t very original." (Victor Li (opens in new tab))
What you said...
Bill Griffin: I've never been a huge fan of The Doors though I think LA Woman and Morrison Hotel are decent albums and the radio staples are good tracks. This doesn't change my opinion but is better than I expected. The songs were rather repetitive though with Variety Is the Spice of Life musically being almost a carbon copy of In The Eye of the Sun. Were Ray and Robbie working off of the same template for those two tracks? The rest is mostly hit except I'm Horny, I'm Stoned which is kinda dumb.
Richard Cardenas: To me, this was a terrible record. Trite lyrics and an insincere feel made me feel embarrassed for them.
Mark Goswitz: Just a couple of good tracks, mostly not so good. The "hatchback" Doors was the end of the line.
Evan Sanders: Unlike the equally questionable An American Prayer, this one doesn't even include Jim Morrison's lyrics. All the songs are forgettable, as if the three members are warming up while waiting for their lead singer to join them. Other Voices gets filed under "know when it's time to say goodbye". 2/10
Frank Copper: I like the album. The groove and sound is good. I agree that the songs are not that great, but good enough for me. What they should have done was change the name of the band. The Doors was Morrison, even if the rest of the guys wrote and created a lot of the music. It's like Slade without Noddy Holder, it doesn't feel right. Over the years I've managed to think "this is a different band," and look at it that way. Then I started to enjoy the music more. But it's like all music ever made: Some like it, some don't.
Alex Hayes: Well, Tightrope Ride is a decent-ish song. As for the rest...
Like many other long-time fans of The Doors, as far as I've always been concerned, the group's core studio output has only ever comprised those six initial Jim Morrison fronted albums. Any activity undertaken by the group, post that 3rd July 1971 watershed, holds no interest for me whatsoever. That includes An American Prayer, as well as the two three piece Doors albums. I've never been remotely inclined to check any of them out (prior to this week of course). Turns out, I really wasn't missing out on much at all.
I don't have a problem with Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore attempting to maintain successful career paths for themselves after Morrison's untimely death. Life goes on and all that. I can even just about get past the indecent haste with which Other Voices managed to see the light of day (just over three months after Morrison's passing, for fucks sake). Honestly though, what was the point ultimately? It shouldn't have taken much foresight to predict that a version of The Doors without its talisman and focal point would amount to very little.
This is the least inspired album I've heard in a long time. The pedigree of the three main musicians on display here is not, and never should be, in question. They just sound lost on Other Voices though. There was a specific moment for me, a couple of minutes into album opener In The Eye Of The Sun, where the thought 'Wow, this really doesn't bode well so far' suddenly popped into my head. That was an early flash of insight that turned out to be right on the nose. So mundane is the material on offer here, that I'm struggling to bring anything specific about it to mind for comment in this review. It's just that dull.
Although it will never be recognised as such in my own personal reckoning, out in the real world, Other Voices is The Doors' second album of 1971. The drop off in quality from L.A. Woman to this is almost embarrassing though. There is no comparison to be made there whatsoever. Whereas L.A. Woman is defined by tracks like Riders On The Storm, the best that Other Voices can offer in response is something like I'm Horny, I'm Stoned. Enough said.
I love The Doors, and I respect the hell out of Krieger, Manzarek and Densmore, but this album has precious little going for it. I haven't decided on a rating yet, but it will be less than 5/10. Very, very pedestrian indeed.
Iain Macaulay: Sad to say, I haven’t posted on this page for some months. There just hasn’t been any album that’s fired my imagination in any way to want to listen to it, or add any kind, or otherwise, words to the reviews. Not even last weeks, which I actually like. Maybe the page needs a reset on the quality of the albums being put up for review because in my humble opinion some of the recent selections don’t add anything to the legacy of the bands or musicians in any positive way, and instead only show some of the lowest points of some of those bands output rather than give a new or casual listener a reason to want to investigate more of their output further.
So… why write now ? Well, I’m a massive Doors fan. So by that I should have some pearls of wisdoms to add to the party. Yes ? You would think. However I revert back to my first point.
When I saw this come up all I could do was cringe. By any standard this album is not a great one, and nowhere near a classic. It’s okay as things stand, but it will not bring anyone new to the Doors trip. In fact, it will probably make more people drop out rather than make them want to tune in and even investigate The Soft Parade.
By the time this album came out the spark had most definitely gone and It was time to put out the fire rather than light it up again, I’m afraid. I don’t want to labour on the point that Jim was the integral part to the whole escapade but as a four piece, there was an awful lot more magic and inspiration in the music than there was as a three piece. A shame really as it could have worked under different circumstances.
John Davidson: It's not as bad as I expected. The music still has its moments, particularly on Ships, but overall I wasn't compelled to listen to this. My spouse is a massive Doors fan and doesn't even count this as an album by the band.
I always found them patchy anyway. Morrison had charm for sure and could write intersection lyrics but their music was only occasionally to my taste. So this slightly jazzy, mostly soft rocky but occasionally more dynamic set of songs doesn't change that at all.
Ryan Sauder: I'm a huge Doors fan, easily my favourite band. I go out of my way to get anything musical of any type from the Doors. When I finally got this album I was excited but not overly so, cause without Jim, they are almost the exact opposite. It's a decent album, but just lacks any type of punch at all
Gary Claydon: I was tempted to give this week's album a swerve. I'm unapologetic in my long-held view that The Doors are prime contenders for being the most over-hyped, overblown, self obsessed and pretentious band in rock history. Actually, that's my opinion of Jim Morrison but, then, Morrison was The Doors, wasn't he? Well, a listen to Other Voices is a chance to answer that question. In addition, of all the albums we've covered in this group, this is the first one I've never heard before, at least in part.
So did Other Voices give me a fresh take on The Doors? No, I'm afraid not. I've always thought that Krieger and Manzarak were the best thing about The Doors and in places the instrumental parts work quite well, especially on Ships w/Sails and the more straightforward rocker Tightrope Ride but that's as interesting as Other Voices gets. Some of the tracks would have benefitted from better vocals but not by much. This isn't an album that did anything to enhance the band's reputation. File and forget.
Mike Canoe: Me, talking to a fellow music-head at work: Did you know that the Doors released two albums without Morrison.
Him: The ones after he died?!? Those aren't real! That's a Doors cover band!
Me: How is it a Doors cover band? They are all members of the Doors. Morrison didn't write any of the music or lyrics on it.
Him: There's no Doors without Jim Morrison!
Me: Have you listened to either of them?
And so it goes. Other Voices would probably stand a better chance if marketed under a different band name. Densmore Krieger Manzarek, anybody? But it is marketed as a Doors album and, therefore, overshadowed by the ghost of Mr. Mojo Risin'. Which is a shame, because I find Other Voices to be more good than bad.
Say what you will about the three left behind continuing as the Doors, but they are as ace a group of musicians as they were before. Ships w/ Sails is an elegant and haunting love song with some great instrumental passages. Hang On To Your Life has a jazzy Calypso feel - until about four minutes in and all hell breaks loose and the listener has to metaphorically hang on to their life. Tightrope Ride rocks spiritedly, lifted by a frantic vocal from Ray Manzarek. Down On The Farm alternates between nice harmonizing between Manzarek and Robby Krieger and a strange honky-tonk tune. Honestly, the only song that kind of bores me is Wandering Musician.
With the death of Jim Morrison, the remaining Doors faced one of the most terrible decisions a band can make. To me, the three left alive still had an obvious chemistry. But after the release of one more album received even more poorly, three great musicians quit making music together and (mostly) faded away. Now that's a sad story.
Jim Kanavy: I enjoy both Doors albums after Jim's death. Those three guys had great musical chemistry and Robby had already been writing a lot of the songs. The vocals are definitely lacking that Morrison oomph, mystery, and danger but the songs are still good and the playing is in a great groove. Just don't expect the records to sound like the classic Doors. The band is different without Jimbo, but not bad.
Chris Elliott: It's not as bad as Fool Circle but that's the only positive. Without Morrison it's completely forgettable. There is a reason it wasn't available for a long time. Great musicians, zero spark.
Philip Qvist: The Doors was one of those groups where the band itself was far greater than the sum of its parts. Jim Morrison needed the other three members of the band just as much as they needed him, and it shows here.
Great musicians they may have been, but without the glue that held it all altogether we end up with an incoherent, aimless record - where you end up asking, "but why?".
Ray and the boys really should have pulled the plug after the excellent LA Woman. I do not consider this a Doors album at all. This is likely to be my lowest ranked album on this forum.
Final score: 4.24 (53 votes cast, total score 225)
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