It's a tricky one this, as, of course, is honesty, weaving a devious path between credibility and risibility. Achieving both, no doubt. And the heightened self-aggrandisement of claiming that coveted hipper than thou award is no mean attraction. So I lie. There, I've said it. L.A.Woman was not my first album. That was Sgt Pepper, but my sister bought me that because she wanted it. And it wasn't my second. That was Pictures at an Exhibition (E.L.P.), and my parents, bless them, bought me that, based on my instructions. But it was my third, and the first, bought with my accumulated savings from Christmas and birthdays. So it counts, don't it? Sort of. And I am so grateful of that, because, let me set the record straight, for once and for all, it is and remains one of the finest recordings of this and last century.
The cover, reproduced at the top, above, had something to do with it, originally having the picture of the band printed onto the yellow inner sleeve, visible through a perspex window, rather than later versions where it was printed as one, all on card. Gone was movie star looks love god Morrison, now a bearded grizzly bear stared balefully out. (I should add I had a thing about beards in those days ahead of being able to grow anything myself. For me the Beach Boys became hip the minute I saw the cover of Live In Concert, ahead even of hearing the songs.......Even Mike Love. Hell, especially Mike Love!) As was my wont, I duly went back and read the inkies of the day, Melody Maker and N.M.E. (New Musical Express) to discover the backstory of booze and bedevilment. I never got round to hearing any more of the record before I was back at the shop, paying my near £2 (about $2.50 today) for my own pristine copy.
Unusually I never quite took to the title track. I found it too long, too loud and too, um, obvious. Yes, I have warmed more to it in the intervening years, but my tastes were more to the mellower aspects, Riders and my lasting favourite, Hyacinth House, below. (AKA, probably, the "cocktail music" epithet made by fast exiting erstwhile producer, Paul Rothschild) I was so convinced as to the perfection of this song that I insisted on playing it to my mother, whose tastes were more of the Jim Reeves persuasion. I forget her opinion, but I felt it helped explain that awful question so beloved of parents, so what sort of music is it that you like? I never felt comfortable saying "rock", as that would have meant "and roll" to my disapproving mother.
But there was also my introduction, more than likely, to any concept of the blues, as a genre and as a genre with a history. Their cover of the John Lee Hooker staple, Crawling King Snake, certainly had an effect on me, the line about getting down on your hands and knees (baby) in particular playing strange tricks on my pubescent mind. Spider on the wall? Wooooo, way too much for my limited understanding to contain and possibly having laundry outcomes. (TMI...)
Luckily I could fall back on the mysticism of Morrisons poetry, and, at 14, yes, it was poetry and, yes, it was mystic. Bob Dylan may just have now been awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for literature, but I know who I would have awarded it to in 1971. And, however corny, today, 45 years on, indeed do I still feel and share the "immaculate" we is, even if I were never stoned.
I could play more, point you to more, but time and space have their purpose. I know the Doors have swung in and out of favour, aided and abetted by innumerable books and films, a mythology as much as anything. The naysayers can go take one, I won't and don't listen. How many records from 45 years ago do you still play? How many records of 45 years ago still gain plaudits? It's true, often only of this generations and of any generations awkward teens, but that is truth enough for me.
You mean you don't already own this? Buy!
O, and that book by David Hepworth? There too.