In which the Lizard King is revealed to have been human after all.
The dead–Jim Morrison industry has fallen off somewhat in recent years, but there’s still lively interest in the Doors on the part of music fans around the world—and readers, too. British rock writer/biographer Wall (Black Sabbath: Symptom of the Universe, 2015, etc.) does a good service by removing the spotlight from Morrison and putting it on the other three members of the legendary 1960s rock group. For instance, he writes, the little-heard-from drummer John Densmore, had problems with the front guy, “becoming ever more frustrated at the increasingly over-indulgent antics of the only guy in the band who couldn’t actually play an instrument.” The author credits guitarist Robbie Krieger with being the chief driving force behind the creation of the band’s catchiest tunes, giving Krieger and keyboardist Ray Manzarek full props for sonic ability and hipness made all the more hip by their lack of Morrison’s showy self-destruction. The usual figures, including the mystical Indian of Morrison myth, bow in, but Wall gives greater attention to the players who shaped the Doors’ legacy—the engineers and producers and background figures who never get enough attention. Though the author too often writes like someone’s superannuated uncle who never quite got over Woodstock (“Ray, who made the whole thing up, man. Kept the train on the tracks”), he tells a good story, and his attention to both the musical and business parts of the equation is a welcome addition to the usual fawning over Morrison’s Adonis-like qualities. Furthermore, the author has talked to the right people, at least those of them left alive, from producer and guiding light Jac Holzman to scene-maker Pamela Des Barres, who only faintly protests that Jim wasn’t anything but straight.
Solid overall, as we have come to expect from Wall, though some readers might prefer Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarmen’s canonical No One Here Gets Out Alive (1980) for sheer rock-’n’-roll esprit.