The Doors release lost track in new compilation album


The Doors | Rhino Entertainment press kit

Mia Euceda, Arts & Culture Editor

“Paris Blues,” the last known unreleased studio recording from the classic rock band The Doors, was released as part of an exclusive compilation album of the same name for Record Store Day’s Black Friday event on Nov. 25.

The album was released exclusively on blue vinyl with artwork by The Doors’ guitarist Robby Krieger and was limited to 17,000 copies. The resurfaced song is available to stream as a single, but the entire album exists as a vinyl record only.

The title track’s master tape was considered lost, and the only surviving copy was partially destroyed after keyboardist Ray Manzarek’s son, who was a toddler at the time, got his hands on the tape. After some “creative editing,” the track was salvaged and released from the vaults.

A music video was also released to promote the song.

It is unclear when the song was originally recorded, but the band said it happened likely between 1968 and 1970 during the recording sessions for the albums “The Soft Parade” and “L.A. Woman.”

The song is akin to other The Doors songs from that period, when the band stepped away from the psychedelia of the late 1960’s and tapped more into its blues influences.

The band’s dissatisfaction with the song may have been why it took so long to get released. Krieger said ”Paris Blues” was “not a great tune,” and Manzarek said it was “nothing special.”

Putting the band’s criticisms aside, “Paris Blues” is the compilation’s crown jewel. Lead singer Jim Morisson uses the motif of Paris to convey a sense of escapism and romanticism. In “Goin’ to the city of love / Gonna start my life all over again,” he croons alongside a wailing guitar that \yearns with him.

On the track, Morrison longs for teenage stardom, only to realize his youth is slipping away. “Once I was warm / Now I feel cold,” he sings.

While the blues is a genre known for its bemoaning nature, it’s conflicting to hear Morrison’s lyrics about craving a juvenile essence at this time, despite the band moving away from a trendier sound in favor of going back to its roots in rock ‘n’ roll. It’s like he wants to remain in his salad days without stunting his artistic growth.

Morrison’s songwriting is simple, but his fervent vocals make up for it. Additionally, Manzarek’s pounding keys pump energy into the recordings.

The record’s selections are more playful and less poetic than the rest of the band’s discography.  Manzarek’s trademark electric organ is a revitalizing accompaniment to what is otherwise a fairly traditional take on the blues.

“I’m Your Doctor” is a raunchy call-and-response number with Manzarek substituting Morrison for vocals.

“Woman, I’m your doctor / And oh yes, I know just what you need,” Manzarek sings. Morrison replies, shouting back “let me see your credentials!”

The compilation also includes two previously unreleased live versions of “I Will Never Be Untrue” and “Me and the Devil Blues” from a 1969 benefit concert in West Hollywood. The second half of the album consists of live recordings from the band’s 1970 concert in Vancouver and features blues legend Albert King on guitar.

“Who Do You Love” is an electrifying performance from both the band and King. The introduction is minimal and muted before it explodes with a banging organ and King’s aggressive guitar bends.

Before playing a rendition of “Little Red Rooster,” Morrison explains the significance of blues music.

“The blues is about the only original art form that America has created in 200 years… there are only two indigenous musical forms native to the United States, and one is the blues,” he says.

King’s contribution is a pleasant reminder of the blues’ origins. It’s evident why he is commonly considered one of the “kings” of the genre. His playing is minimal but full of fervor, leaving the listener eagerly anticipating each note.

It’s satisfying to finally hear “Paris Blues” in all its glory. However, including the remaining tracks is a questionable choice, as most can be found on previous archival releases.

The first side of the record is mediocre for a compilation that wants to be an impactful tribute to the blues. Just how many renditions of “(You Need Meat) Don’t Go No Further” do fans need? The rest of the LP doesn’t hold up enough on its own to justify this compilation’s release.

However, “Paris Blues” is strong enough to have been released as a single without the additional filler.