Saturday, December 31, 2011

Early Morning Blues and Greens - Diane Hildebrand



Early Morning Blues and Greens
Diane Hildebrand
Elektra EKS-74301
1969

I came across this while flipping through the folk bin in a record store here in Los Angeles.  It caught my attention for a variety of reasons, partly because the picture of the artist resembles my stepmother back in the 70s, partly because it is on one of my favorite 1960s record labels, Elektra, but mostly because I recognized "Early Morning Blues and Greens" as one of the better songs on the Monkees' "Headquarters" album.  I decided to pick it up and I'm glad I did.  I know very little about Hildebrand except that she was a commercial songwriter who did some television work including co-writing "Goin' Down" and "Your Auntie Grizelda" for the Monkees, "Come On Get Happy" for the Partridge Family and "Easy Come, Easy Go" for Bobby Sherman.  Her sole solo album however could not be more different.  It is a quiet, introspective album of folk-rock with tasteful, spare instrumental arrangements.  "Jan's Blues" is the album opener and it is one of my favorites.  Like many of the songs on the record it is driven by a strong bass line with guitars and piano adding color.  It is a moody tune about an unhappy love affair.  "Thumbin'" shuffles along with some pleasant harmonica accompaniment.  It has a nice lazy day feel.  "From Rea Who Died Last Summer" is a haunting song in which the deceased urges her friend to enjoy life and not to mourn her.  "There's A Coming Together" is a low key, pretty song with hippie overtones.  "And It Was Good" has a chamber pop sound reminiscent of Judy Collins.  "Gideon" is a waltz-like tune without words, Hildebrand sings the melody with dee-dee-dees.  I prefer her version of "Early Morning Blues and Greens" to the Monkees' one mostly because of her superior vocal.  I think it is the most memorable song on the album and I dig the folk-rock arrangement.  "The Reincarnation of Emmalina Stearns" has a bluesy vocal that challenges Hildebrand's range.  Pushed by a strong organ line and prominent guitar, it is the hardest rocking song on the album.  I like the hypnotic bass riff in "You Wonder Why You're Lonely" which is another moody song enlivened by raga-ish guitar riffing. The country flavored "Come Looking For Me" features some charming harpsichord accompaniment. The album quietly ends with "Given Time" which is a gentle song about a love affair.  It is one of the more personal songs on the album and another one of my favorites.  As much as I like this record I can see why it did not make much of a splash at the time.  The folk-rock sound that is predominant on it was old-fashioned by 1969 and the record is largely quiet and sedate.  The biggest problem for me is the distance in the lyrics, it has a contrived songwriterly feel to it, as if Hildebrand was making stuff up rather than singing from a personal perspective.  I still enjoy it, but it doesn't really engage me the way Joni Mitchell or Leonard Cohen do.  On the plus side I like Hildebrand's husky voice and the quality of the instrumental support.  It is soothing late at night, I like falling asleep to it.  Recommended to Jackie DeShannon fans.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Midnight Ride - Paul Revere and the Raiders



Midnight Ride
Paul Revere and the Raiders
Columbia  CL 2508
1966

This was Paul Revere and the Raiders' third album for Columbia and along with "The Spirit of '67" it represents the high point of the band's career for me.  I don't think any of the band's studio albums are essential, the majority of their best songs were singles so most people can get by with any of their numerous comps.  Nonetheless I'm enough of a fan that I like just about all of their Columbia albums and I play this one quite a bit.  It starts off with the group's classic single "Kicks" which was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil.  It is a hard rocking anti-drug song with a memorable guitar riff, a propulsive bass line and a strong, gritty vocal from Mark Lindsay.  It may not have gone down so well with the hippies, but I like the lyrics and think it is one of their best songs ever.  The only other song not penned by the band is "I'm Not Your Stepping Stone" which was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart and would later be a hit single for the Monkees, but I prefer the Raiders' version which rocks harder and has a more urgent vocal.  If there was ever any question about these guys' garage band credentials, this song answers it convincingly.  The remaining songs are all originals and every member contributes to the songwriting.  The team of Paul Revere and Mark Lindsay has the most compositions but lead guitarist Drake Levin comes up with the best original song on the album, "Ballad of a Useless Man."  It has a great riff, another fine Lindsay vocal and unusual lyrics written from the perspective of a homeless guy.  Levin and drummer Mike Smith wrote the hard rocking "There's Always Tomorrow" with features a lead vocal from Smith who is no match for Mark Lindsay in that regard.  It is a really good song though and I like the raga-like solo.  Bassist Phil Volk and Levin wrote the punchy "Get It On" which has a compelling organ riff, a sizzling guitar solo and a rough but effective lead vocal from Volk.  Revere and Lindsay's contributions are more eclectic.  They include the sappy "Melody for an Unknown Girl" which features an awful Davy Jones type recitation by Lindsay which he follows up with a lengthy sax instrumental that reminds me of Mr. Acker Bilk's "Stranger on the Shore" - that is not a compliment.  "Little Girl in the 4th Row" is another sappy tune directed at the teeny-bopper fan base.  It is pretty embarrassing.  Aside from those two duds the other Lindsay/Revere songs are all really good.  "There She Goes" has a country feeling that is better than you'd expect.  I think "Louie, Go Home" is inspired by "Louie, Louie" which the band released as a single earlier in their career.  It has a simple staccato riff and seems like a conventional pop song until the break which features a raga rock guitar solo.  "All I Really Need Is You" has another passionate vocal from Lindsay and more raga rock in the verses which gives way to a catchy pop chorus.  "Take A Look At Yourself" is a hard-driving putdown song with nice folk-rock style guitar licks.  The liner notes for this album compare it to "Rubber Soul" and quote Time magazine comparing the Raiders to Dylan and the Rolling Stones, which is ludicrous, but as far as mid-1960s commercial rock goes, the Raiders are about as good as it gets.  Mark Lindsay was one of the most talented vocalists in mid-1960s American rock and these guys came up with more good songs than almost any of their peers.  Recommended for snooty garage aficionados, if you think some teenage punks playing the high school dance circuit were better than these guys just because of their commercial attitude, you are kidding yourselves.  This is the real deal.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dye It Blonde - Smith Westerns



Dye It Blonde
Smith Westerns
Fat Possum Records FP 1235
2011

The inner sleeve and record label of this album are covered with smiley faces, which is appropriate since this is the happiest record I've heard this year.  When I started hearing cuts from “Dye It Blonde” on college radio earlier this year, they really jumped out at me with their sunshine pop sound.  I could hear a strong retro pop influence blended with a big old fashioned glam rock/Spectorish wall of sound.  I loved it and bought this album which lived up to all my expectations.  I wish I could say the same for their live act, but when I saw them open for the Arctic Monkeys at the Hollywood Bowl, I was a bit disappointed and I don’t think it was just me, because almost no one around me paid any attention to them, they just kept babbling to each other as if they weren’t even playing.  I think the Bowl was not a good venue for them, they seemed small and the sound was all murky.  It must be a challenge to reproduce that grandiose sound on stage.  Anyway they are still pretty young and I imagine the live act will improve with experience.  Perhaps the lyrics will improve too because these are pretty slight, mostly silly love songs.  The music is strong enough that I don’t mind too much, but hopefully as these guys mature they will find something interesting to say.  I love the shimmering power pop of “Weekend” and “End of The Night,” alternative rock does not get any more joyous than this.  I feel instantly uplifted whenever I hear these songs.  If you don’t listen to the words “Still New” sounds like an outtake from John Lennon’s “Mind Games” album, it even fades out with a Beatlesque segment of the song playing backwards.  I also hear Lennon in “Imagine Pt. 3" which I presume is named in tribute to him as well as in the reverb heavy  “All Die Young” which also reminds me a little of Badfinger in its guitar sound.  Side one ends with “Fallen In Love” which reminds me of mid-1970s Paul McCartney.  I dig the glossy folk-rock sound of “Only One” which sounds like the Wondermints covering the Byrds.  My favorite song is “Smile.”  It is a soaring, ecstatic song that sounds like the Polyphonic Spree jamming with ELO and Oasis, the music is so big and powerful that Phil Spector is probably sitting in his cell planning a plagiarism suit.  “Dance Away” is the hardest rocking song on the album.  It has a strong beat, bordering on disco at one point, but still features the rich musical sound of the rest of the album.  It sounds a bit like the High Llamas doing Bowie's "Modern Love."  The album closes with “Dye The World Blonde” which has the cleverest lyrics of all the songs on the album and a nice majestic 1970s power pop feel that brings to mind Todd Rundgren, Big Star or Badfinger.  I have a feeling if I checked out these guys' record collection, I'd see a lot of my favorite old records.  Maybe they aren't the most original band around, but their music makes me so happy that I don't care.  I love the band's enthusiasm and passion and I hope they can hang on to that as they get older.  I can't wait to hear where they are going to go in the future.  Recommended for fans of Best Coast.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Person Pitch - Panda Bear



Person Pitch
Panda Bear
Paw Tracks  PAW 14
2007

I saw Panda Bear at the Hollywood Bowl over the summer.  I thought his set was mesmerizing but perhaps the Bowl was not the best venue for him.  Most of the hipsters around me barely stopped blabbing and swigging wine to listen to him and my wife and kid were bored out of their minds by him.  I guess I can understand that.  Like a lot of electronic music his songs are repetitious, but they also have a pop quality that I find very remarkable.  He's like a cross between Philip Glass and Brian Wilson.  There is a sunny and joyful feeling to his music that distinguishes it from most of the electronic music I've heard.  This album is spread over two records but the sides are fairly short since the entire album is only about 44 minutes long.  The album features striking collage-style artwork from Agnes Montgomery and contains an insert that reproduces her artwork from the four singles that feature six of the album's tracks.  The insert also includes a list of groups and people who influenced the record and there must be close to a hundred of them listed comprising all sorts of disparate genres and styles.  Several of the artists are sampled for his tape loops.  The album opens with "Comfy in Nautica" which sounds like a psychedelic march.  It is a statement on how one should live.  I like the line "coolness is having courage, courage to do what is right."  "Take Pills" is another philosophy song that expresses a message contrary to its title, namely that the narrator does not want to take pills because he is stronger and no longer needs them.  The music has almost a tropical, world beat flavor to it.  It is one of my favorite cuts on the record.  The B side consists entirely of "Bro's" which is over 12 minutes long.  It also has a world music feel to it and I really dig the soaring vocal on it.  It is a gorgeous song, the sound is so rich and so multi-textured.  I have a hard time deciphering all the words on it but he seems to be telling his friends that he needs his space and has matured beyond them but that he still cares for them.  Side C opens with "Good Girl" which is a frenzied Indian music influenced song.  The vocal is so distorted that I can't understand the words at all, I had to look them up on the internet to figure them out.  I'm not sure what it means but it sounds like he is all stressed out and some girl helps him feel better.  I think it is the most extreme song on the album, my kid overheard me listening to it and asked me if a car alarm was going off outside, ha-ha.  It segues directly into "Carrots" which returns to the familiar Brian Wilson inspired style that is typical of most of the album to deliver a cutting putdown to critics.  The extreme invective in the lyrics contrasts with the beauty of the music.  Side D begins with "I'm Not" which is a stunningly beautiful song.  Again I couldn't figure out the song until I looked up the lyrics on the internet.  It seems to be about impending fatherhood.  There is also a French song running through it as well.  "Search For Delicious" is perhaps the most abstract song on the album.  A collection of bird noises, sound effects and loops accompanying a hypnotic drone, I didn't even realize it had lyrics until I saw them posted on the internet.  It reminds me a bit of early 1970s Pink Floyd only better.  The album ends with one of the most conventional songs on the album, "Ponytail" although with Panda Bear, conventional is a relative term, this still sounds pretty out there compared to commercial indie rock.  It is a short song about spiritual growth and like most of the music on this album, it is very pleasurable to listen to.  This album is one of my favorite albums of the past decade.  It manages to synthesize creative influences from past pop music and create something that is both progressive and beautiful.  I usually find contemporary electronic music to be more interesting than fun, but this record is both mentally stimulating and enjoyable to listen to.  Recommended to people whose favorite Beach Boys album is "Smile."

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Crimson & Clover - Tommy James and the Shondells



Crimson & Clover
Tommy James and the Shondells
Roulette  SR-42023
1969

One of the things I find most interesting about pop music in the 1960s is the way in which so many music groups were transformed by the psychedelic era, not just major groups like the Beatles, Beach Boys and Rolling Stones, but even ordinary garage bands suddenly found ambition and began producing elaborate records.  I don't think that any group really traveled farther than these guys though.  After a couple of years of producing some of the crassest bubblegum music around with considerable commercial success, they suddenly unleashed this pseudo-psychedelic epic on the unsuspecting teeny-boppers.  The title song is perhaps the best psych-bubblegum song of all time, rivaled only by "Green Tambourine" and "Incense and Peppermints" and to my mind better than either.  Lyrically it is as inane as the group's earlier work, but musically it is terrific.  Written by James and drummer Peter Lucia, the song features a simple but hypnotic riff that is endlessly repeated but subjected to gradually increasing technical manipulation that distorts it, accompanied by a lot of guitar soloing until the song reaches its climax and the song concludes with tremolo distorting the vocal.  It is such a stupid song that I'm embarrassed that I like it so much, but I do and I always have since I first heard it in my early teens.  "Kathleen McArthur" reminds me of the late 1960s Hollies in its pop craftsmanship.  It is a simple song about a gardener in love with a rich girl with mild tones of social criticism.  Psychedelia returns for "I Am a Tangerine" which features a lot of manipulated sound.  The lyrics are ludicrous, they sound like a parody, I don't know how anyone could sing a line like "hello banana, I am a tangerine" without cracking up.  Side one ends with "Do Something To Me" which is the only song that was not written or co-written by Tommy James.  It is a return to the bubblegum music that made the group famous.  I suspect Roulette made them stick it on there to placate the fan base.  It is totally inconsistent with the tone of the rest of the record.  Side two kicks off with another hit single "Crystal Blue Persuasion" which has an idyllic feeling reminiscent of the Rascals' "Groovin'" and is driven by a simple organ riff.  People have claimed it is a drug song but if you listen to the words it is obviously about love and God.  "Sugar On Sunday" is similar to the title song, a dumb love song with a nice riff and a mildly psychedelic musical style.  It was a modest hit for the Clique.  "Breakaway" is the hardest rocking song on the album and makes effective use of fuzz guitar.  It was arguably a garage band cliche by 1969 but it never gets old for me.  "Smokey Roads" is a slow rocker with a psych feel to it that describes how one can never go home again.  The album ends with "I'm Alive" with effectively blends the band's former bubblegum sound with a fuzz-laden garage band approach to produce one of the best songs on the album.  It reminds me of Paul Revere and the Raiders.  "Crimson and Clover" is reprised briefly at the end of the song to presumably demonstrate that this is a meaningful album and not just a bunch of songs.  I assume that is also the reason for the inclusion of between takes chatter, false endings and stray pieces of music that appear sporadically through the album.  It is hardly "Sgt. Pepper" but this is a consistently enjoyable album and an impressive leap forward for a commercial group seeking respectability and credibility.  The band probably didn't help their cause much though by printing a letter from Hubert Humphrey on the back of the album lauding them for help in his presidential campaign, but at least it was not from Nixon.  Recommended for people who prefer the Strawberry Alarm Clock to the 13th Floor Elevators.   

Friday, December 9, 2011

Narrow Stairs - Death Cab for Cutie



Narrow Stairs
Death Cab For Cutie
Atlantic/Barsuk  BARK75
2008 

I saw Death Cab twice this summer on the “Codes and Keys” tour and I’d go see them again tomorrow if I could.  They really put on a great show.  I can’t believe how big they’ve become.  I’ve been a fan since their second album “We Have the Facts and We're Voting Yes” but back in those days I didn't think that they’d ever be more than a cult band.  I never would have predicted that big-time commercial radio stations like KROQ would be playing their singles or that they’d be headlining large venues.  The first clue I was wrong was when Ben Gibbard had all that success with the Postal Service.  I thought that would be the end of Death Cab and that Gibbard would go solo.  I was wrong about that too.  Instead Death Cab became one of the biggest bands in alternative rock and kudos to them for achieving success without sacrificing their original sound or their integrity.  The band that made “Codes and Keys” is easily recognizable as the band that made “Something About Airplanes.”  I love all their albums but my favorite is “Narrow Stairs” although it is arguably their darkest record.  The album begins with “Bixby Canyon Bridge” which is a spectacular bridge on Highway 1 in Big Sur, California.  That stretch of road  is one of my favorite drives and if you ever find yourself out this way I highly recommend it (unless you get easily carsick.)  In the song Gibbard makes a pilgrimage to the spot unsuccessfully seeking inspiration from Jack Kerouac who lived there briefly and wrote about it in his novel “Big Sur.”  Gibbard mentions feeling confused and uneasy about the direction his life has taken but finds no answers in the creek at the bottom of the bridge.  The song starts like a slow, ethereal ballad but gradually builds in intensity and develops into a noisy rockfest, the Death Cab version of a rave-up.  Death Cab opened up their shows this summer with the mesmerizing “I Will Possess Your Heart.”  The song opens slowly with the drone of a synthesizer and a hypnotic bass riff.  After a few bars, other instruments kick in and a driving instrumental passage ensues lasting over four minutes before Gibbard takes the mike.  The song starts out sounding like a love song, but as it progresses the protagonist is revealed to be a creepy stalker.  I think it is one of the band’s strongest songs.  “No Sunlight” sounds poppy and upbeat until you listen to the words and hear the narrator losing his youthful idealism and being enveloped by darkness.  I find the contrast between the words and music very striking.  It segues directly into “Cath...” which is an amazing set of lyrics depicting a doomed wedding.  Gibbard’s description of the contrast between the image of the bride and the reality of her situation is devastating.  With the band pounding away in the background , this is one of the most powerful songs on the record.  “Talking Bird” is a slow ballad with the band droning away beneath lyrics  that use a caged bird as a metaphor for a relationship.  Side two opens with “You Can Do Better Than Me” which describes someone in an unsatisfying relationship who stays in the relationship because they could never find a better partner.  Again the band pairs a depressing set of lyrics against cheerful, even wistful sounding music.  Gibbard once wrote one of the most devastating put-downs of Los Angeles ever in “Why You’d Want To Live Here” (on “The Photo Album”) but when I first heard “Grapevine Fires” I realized that Gibbard had become a genuine Angelino.  His description of the wildfires that periodically plague Southern California features such vivid and evocative imagery that I can practically smell the smoke in the air when I listen to it.  It is set to a haunting and hypnotic melody that stays with me for days after I listen to this album.  It is one of the best songs on the album.  It is followed by “Your New Twin Sized Bed” which is another song that matches cheerful, upbeat music to depressing lyrics.  In this case the subject of the song has thrown out their queen sized mattress and replaced it with a twin mattress because they’ve given up on ever being in a relationship.  “Long Division” is the catchiest and poppiest song on the album so naturally it is paired with lyrics depicting the end of a relationship.  It uses mathematics for the symbolism of the one who gets dumped by their partner, being the remainder like in long division.  It is another terrific song, but oh so bleak, although it is like sunshine pop compared to “Pity and Fear.”  The song describes a one night stand and the alienation between people with very powerful imagery.  The song starts out sounding like an Indian raga with droning instruments and tabla-like percussion but soon escalates into a straight ahead rocker that becomes extremely loud and powerful before ending abruptly in the middle of a riff.  The cacophonous finish of “Pity and Fear” is followed by the quietest song on the album, “The Ice Is Getting Thinner.”  Gibbard chooses melting ice as his metaphor this time as he examines the deterioration of yet another relationship.  It is a gloomy, but beautiful song that ends this dark album on an appropriately melancholy note.  This is such an unhappy record with such a pessimistic view of human relationships that it is almost mind-boggling that Gibbard would end up getting engaged to a movie star little more than half a year after this album was released.  It would have seemed more likely that he would have withdrawn into a monastery instead.  Despite the depressing nature of the lyrics, this isn’t a difficult record to listen to.  The music is mostly engaging and accessible and the lyrics are expressed with clever metaphors and poetic language, it is not at all like some emo mope-fest.  I imagine if you were in a bad relationship or had recently suffered a broken heart, it might strike a little too close to home, but I know when I’m feeling down, I generally find comfort in a kindred spirit rather than some happy optimist type.  Recommended for Morrissey fans who wish he wasn't such a drama queen. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

L.A. Woman - The Doors



L.A. Woman
The Doors
Elektra  EKS-75011
1971

I love listening to the radio.  It has been a big part of my life since I was a little kid and it remains my primary source for discovering new music.  I used to enjoy checking out the radio stations in the different towns I passed through on road trips, but lately it seems like they are all the same, especially the classic rock ones.  It is always Jack or Bob or the Hawk or some other stupid chain playing the same crappy Eagles or Frampton songs everywhere I go.  Soulless corporate radio, no personality, no variety, how is that so successful?  When I was a teen I listened to KSAN in San Francisco, which featured free-form progressive rock programming.  The DJs had style and personality and I heard all sorts of interesting music.  It broke my heart when they abandoned the format and went country.  That sort of programming has disappeared from commercial radio which is why I generally only listen to college radio.  There was one exception to that here in Southern California on a station called KLOS.  They bill themselves as a hard rock station, but basically they are just another dumb classic rock station playing the same tired old songs that other classic rock stations play, so boring.  But in the evening they let an old DJ named Jim Ladd abandon the playlist and play free form rock.  I enjoyed his show even though his musical tastes are somewhat different from mine.  The guy was basically a dinosaur and I would wince occasionally when he would go into his groovy hepcat schtick, but he was entertaining and played stuff that I had never heard before.  Ladd got fired a couple of months ago when the giant radio corporation Cumulus Media bought KLOS (ironically they are also the current owners of KSAN.)  Ladd recently took a job at a satellite radio station, but it makes me sad that there is no place for a guy like that on commercial terrestrial radio.  I think the popularity of formatted classic rock radio is a sign of our cultural decline and I'll never understand why people want to hear the same old songs over and over.  Ugh.  So this post goes out to Jim Ladd, thanks for making radio interesting and good luck with the new gig.  Ladd is a big fan of the Doors and would play stuff besides the five or six songs in heavy rotation on all the classic rock stations, he'd play stuff like "Peace Frog."  I'm not as big a fan of the band as Ladd is, but I do really like this album which was their final album before Jim Morrison's untimely demise.  Given Morrison's erratic behavior and mental instability around this time it is remarkable that it is so good, easily their best record since "Strange Days."  Also its quality makes me wonder what might have happened if Morrison hadn't died.  Side one is a flawless set of music beginning with the get down rock and roll of "The Changeling."  Jimbo sounds more gravel-voiced, perhaps the substance abuse was taking its toll, but the grainy quality of his voice suits the song well.  It is followed by "Love Her Madly" which is one of their most successful pop efforts, infinitely preferable to the sappy stuff on "The Soft Parade."  I particularly like the keyboard work of Ray Manzarek on the song.  "Been Down So Long" is one of several blues songs on the record with a nice gut-bucket vocal from Morrison.  I'm assuming the key line in the song comes from Richard Fariña's novel "Been Down So Long, It Looks Like Up to Me" which I'm sure Morrison must have been familiar with although it may have been lifted from the Furry Lewis song "I Will Turn Your Money Green" that inspired Fariña and which is musically similar to this song.  Given all of Morrison's personal and legal problems at the time it is tempting to read the lyrics as being perhaps more personal than they really are. "Cars Hiss By My Window" is a slow blues with a lethargic vocal from Jimbo.  The side concludes with the classic rocker "L.A. Woman."  It features one of Morrison's best vocals ever, you can practically hear his vocal chords shredding as he sings of love and desire against a backdrop of an apocalyptic vision of Los Angeles.  It is an extraordinarily passionate performance that showcases the bands instrumental prowess, a truly great song.  Side two kicks off with another rocker, the mildly creepy "L'America."  It has a theatrical feeling reminiscent of the first two Doors albums.  I like the way the song abruptly changes tone in the middle.  "Hyacinth House" is a weird song which Morrison sings in a gloomy deep voice that almost sounds like a parody of himself.  The song seems like a throwaway pieced together with seemingly inane lyrics until Morrison starts singing about needing a new friend.  The earnestness of his vocal at that point does convey a sense of desperation in keeping with the dark tone of so much of the record.  A cover of John Lee Hooker's "Crawling King Snake" provides the obligatory Doors reptilian reference on the album.  It is a slow blues that features a strong Morrison vocal, he sounds very inspired.  "The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat) is another bluesy song that is about border radio and rhythm and blues music although there is also a sense of despair and a search for meaning culminating in the great anti-religion line "no eternal reward will forgive us now for wasting the dawn.The band really cooks during the instrumental break.  The album ends with the classic song "Riders On the Storm."  The song is very atmospheric with a western feeling to it.  The line "there's a killer on the road, his brain is squirming like a toad" is one of my favorite Doors lyrics.  I frequently quote it when I encounter a person I consider crazy.  Manzarek's piano playing on this song is among the best in the Doors' canon, his runs flow like water.  The song is a terrific finish for the album and would have made a fitting epitaph for the Doors career if the surviving members hadn't decided to tarnish their legacy by recording two mediocre albums without Morrison.  This is a great album for late night listening and even though it is not a concept album, its unity of tone and inspired flow demonstrate the value of the album format, the songs add resonance and depth to each other.  Kind of like a good DJ spinning some free form radio.  Recommended for people who think that the Jack in Jack Radio is short for jackass.