I have many classic albums that routinely make an appearance through my daily listening. These are albums that may have been defining for the band or perhaps just had personal significance to me. Among these classics is The Doors‘ LA Woman. The album contains two classic songs – Riders on the Storm and the title track. While these are fantastic songs that I never tire of, they are not what makes the album for me. Buried between these greats is a short three minute track titled Hyacinth House. At first listen, it seems out-of-place with The Doors‘ catalogue both on the album and in the wider context. I always found the track unsettling. It seemed mournful. It seemed as though Morrison was using it as his way to say he was done. Indeed, only a few months after the album release, he passed away in Paris.
I have done considerable research on Jim Morrison in the past and find his history fascinating. He was an individual with an inherent creative spirit and intelligence, charisma, and high vocal abilities. But, as his time with The Doors‘ progressed, he fell into deeper and deeper states of unhappiness. By the time Hyacinth House was written, I see that as his final farewell. He had the raw material to continue to make amazing music, but he no longer had the heart. When I listen to that track, I often wonder to myself what would have happened if Morrison lived longer; if he took an extended leave in Paris and returned with the heart and passion to continue.
This is not some sort of nagging question I think terribly deeply about. But, it is one that I am reflective on whenever I dig out LA Woman. And, it is a question that returned to me just recently in a completely different context.
Early in 2013 I happened to come across the music of Manchester band, The Unassisted. It was during a night when I was listening to many new bands. The track was You’ll Get By. At the 18 second mark a subtle riff caught my attention. Lasting only a few seconds, it reminded me of a riff in the opening to the title track of LA Woman. Without time to dwell on this, and it being a mere passing thought in my mind, the vocals kicked in. Having listened to many new artists that night, I was in a certain mindset. The vocals made me step back because they were not in the least similar to anything I’d listened to that night. Deep, bluesy, ambling. As I listened through I had one of those terrible feelings like you’re forgetting something but you don’t know what it is. By the end of the track the name Jim Morrison popped into my head. But, the nagging feeling remained.
It was sometime later that night that my tired brain finally coughed up the solution. I could not resolve myself to say this sounded similar to The Doors. It didn’t. It did not sound like The Doors that I knew, it sounded like The Doors as I’d imagined they would become.
It was a moment of connection. Jim Morrison singing the rather peculiar Hyacinth House as his farewell; his subtle suggestion that his heart was no longer in the music. The pondering on my part of direction, and what would have been had Morrison lived longer and regained his passion. And now, The Unassisted providing the end point.
I continued to explore The Unassisted. I next listened to the track Everything. A nice beat persists with the characteristic deep bluesy vocals overlaid. Much as You’ll Get By, there is an underlying passion in the song that is captured by all members of the band. I find this characteristic so often among emerging artists. It gives the track a heightened flair. The same music – note for note – played by less enthusiastic individuals would not reproduce the atmosphere of the song.
The scenario played out further in my head as my listening continued. The Doors ended production of music when the passion and the will to create had been depleted. They had the raw talent to continue, but that essential ingredient of passion was missing. Then, over four decades later, this band draws my attention that has music worthy of the great Doors, but a heightened sense of passion. It was refreshing. Over the next few weeks, I tried my best to promote the band; to expose others to their music, hoping they would hear what I did, and take note of the trajectory this superb band was headed on.
Later in the year it was with great anticipation that I came across Hands Dance Hands (symmetric phrases always excite me, given my unquenchable love of patterns). I was blown away on listening! The song has peaks and valleys that move from the vocals to the incredibly catchy instrumentals. It is a true accomplishment. It is a song that speaks volumes of what tremendous work can be accomplished when impassioned musicians come together. There will be no description of this track. I have included it following this article. If you are among the few unfortunate souls who have yet to check it out, you are definitely in for a musical treat!
I struggled to write this article. I am always hesitant to draw comparisons between bands in a review. I never know how the band will take it. Perhaps they don’t see the link, or actually hate the band I am linking them to! In this case, however, I don’t see The Unassisted as being similar to The Doors. The Doors are now part of musical history, They have inspired many bands; the sounds they conceived have evolved and woven themselves into the tracks of countless artists. In The Unassisted I don’t see similarity. I see progression. I see what I always dreamed The Doors would become had they continued to produce music along the trajectory they were headed. I see fresh passion to create music. I see originality and vision. I see a stand-out band ready to emerge.
Michael Dakin //