Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. Here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog) (last update 5/23/2017)

November 25, 2010

Riders On The Storm (aka Doors Of The 21st Century) ~ Live In Hollywood New Years Eve 2004 (live)

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Style: progressive, hard rock, live
Label: Disc Live
Year: 2004
Home: n/a (disbanded)

Members: Ray Manzarek ~ keyboards/vocals
Robby Kreiger ~ guitar/vocals
Ian Astbury ~ vocals
Angelo Barbera ~ bass
Ty Dennis ~ drums

Guest: Waylon Kreiger ~ guitar

This is an excellent suprise from a reunited Doors, or half the band sans drummer John Densmore & obviously Jim Morrison & now under the name Riders On The Storm, having faced a copywright lawsuit under the original moniker of The Doors Of The 21st Century, now with a bassist & Ian Astbury of the Cult behind the mic. Some people will criticize the reunion of such a classic cult band whose sound was so tied into the drug culture of the 1960's let alone so dependent on the self-indulgent poetry & dramatic antics of Morrison, let alone his youthful natural charisma. Plus, reunions have often proven themselves short lived affairs that didn't live up to expectations & should have been left as an idea on paper. Honestly, ROTS encompasses all the positive & negative traits of similiar reunions but somehow managed to create something that didn't hurt anyones careers or reputations, excelled expectations, made some great music that went beyond nostalgic romps, didn't try to recreate the past when it couldn't & had a good healthy run before going into the disturbing territory of making new music when the gig is essentially a nostalgia/tribute act. First off, this three CD release is a small press live recording, like all ROTS releases, that features many classic songs plus the entire L.A. Woman, the final recording with Morrison that was never performed live as it wasn't finished till after his death. So, this is quite a treat, irregardless of the fact that the band really lets loose with high energy in this New Years concert that even brings in guitarist Robby Krieger's son to jam with the band when the calendar turns. Musically, the first thing one notices is that this is the not a quartet but a full guitar/bass/drums band. This might be a detriment to the sparse sound of the Doors, but one must remember L.A. Woman featured such a line-up & would have probably been the direction the band would have gone if given the chance, so this is really picking up where the band left off versus the now clean/sober band recreating earlier drugged out days & turning themselves into a tribute band not a creative entity on its own. Another musical change, albeit less noticeable but when it is the change is an undeniable big one, is the absence of drummer who chose to instead tour with his jazz band. Densmore is a jazz drummer who kept time as much as he added a new layer of spontaneous sounds, while his replacement is a straight ahead rock drummer. It would be interesting to hear Densmore in this context. But, as one notices the tighter drummer one also hears the more mature guitar style of Kreiger. He's always had an angular playing style that encompassed flamenco, classical & rock elements, but after 40 years of largely playing rock music he's not just a better & more fluid player but also more rock sounding, let alone no longer under the drug influence. It's almost embarressing to say that its a problem he became a better guitarist, but that's the response many listeners will probably have. But, the problem really isn't with Krieger because his playing is as hot as ever, if not more, but the particular sound of the Doors is so ingrained in our ears that to hear different is a struggle. It's a wall incredibly hard for the musicians to climb over no matter how they play. As for other original member Ray Manzarek ... he has also changed in his playing, but the most noticeable difference is that with a full rhythm section he's no longer tied to playing bass notes so ROTS actually allows him to branch out in ways he never got to previously as one hand was always tied to the low end. As for the vocalist ... the real focus of the band & where the whole project could fail ... The Cult's Ian Astbury is a wonderful choice that many were critical of when ROTS started but through some amazing performances built up glowing respect & has become almost as irreplaceable & charasmatic as Morrison. I know I started listening to the Cult after hearing him here. Krieger & Manzarek could have chosen someone completely different than Morrison, as Queen did with Paul Rodgers, or gone with someone similiar. There's good & bad points about each direction. Choosing someone similiar was a good decision, though Astbury is spookily similiar both visually & vocally. I played this for one person & they actually thought it was an old concert of the Doors. It's almost as if Astbury intoning the spirit of Morrison & helps out towards making this sound like the Doors never split & Morrison had grown old with the rest of us. Krieger & Manzarek know the tightrobe they are walking bringing back the past, which is probably why much of the reunion has been done on their own modest terms & not plastered across billboards & magazine covers, which is what many reunited bands do only to have the disappointment kick them on the way out. There is no question ROTS is a band having fun & not taking itself too seriously. It helps that they chose not to write new material & try to link it to the past. That's where reunited bands often go wrong. Page & Plant, The Who & Queen with Paul Rodgers have all suffered from this mistake. ROTS has since disbanded and are now the Manzarek-Krieger Band, which allows them to mix together old & new music & not step on the past or limit themselves to the nostalgia umbrella. But, for a time they let the nostalgia flow & it's well worth hunting up. As it is, the critical points to the band just make the story of the band more interesting because the music was & remains untouchable.

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