Because “Mr. Mojo Risin’” is an anagram for vocalist Jim Morrison’s name, it’s mislabeling of a sort to attach it as the title for this DVD.Virtually all the content focuses on the music of The Doors rather than the myth of, most of which surrounds the lead singer.
Deepening the exploration into the group dynamic, Mr. Mojo Risin’ adds much to broaden understanding of The Doors by narrowing its focus on their final album. Released in 1971, LA Woman is an extraordinary entry into their body of work and capped the partnership the group developed over their years on Elektra Records as described by label founder Jac Holzman.
Long-time producer Paul Rothschild’s refusal to record with The Doors, after initial sessions seemed unproductive (at least to his ears) was a watershed moment. It drove the band to work in their own rehearsal space –‘The Doors Workshop,’ adjacent to their business offices – with engineer Bruce Botnick in Rothschild’s role. Augmenting the core quartet for these recordings were additional musicians–journeyman guitarist Marc Benno and bassist Jerry Scheff from Elvis Presley’s band—whose presence not only retained, but also amplified the spontaneous atmosphere of the sessions.
Interviewed with their instruments, the conversations with Manzarek, Densmore & Krieger are notable for lack of resentment toward Morrison, but instead contain repeated mentions of the way he inspired them. Similar footage included as bonus segments might be judiciously accessible from the main program or dispensed with altogether as extras and woven into the main feature. In further interview content, David Fricke’s observations have all the clarity of his music criticism, while Ben Fong-Torres, former editor of Rolling Stone in its early years, has, in turn, the most grounded and astute perceptions of The Doors as cultural signposts.
The discovery of an unreleased recording by The Doors is actually one of the main selling points of this DVD and its companion piece two-cd set. But “She Smells So Nice” is a mere afterthought to both: it’s a blues jam finding The Doors largely uninspired until guitarist Robby Krieger takes a liquid solo from which point all four dig in to the genre chestnut “Rock Me” with just the right proportion of earnestness and distance.
Just when the ensemble sounds like it’s playing for the pure pleasure of it, rediscovering their loyalty to the music and each other, the singer declaims the titles of this disc… and it’s over. It’s a startling moment that, contrived as it may very well be (as has been the criticism of much of their work), further illuminates the mystery of the chemistry within The Doors. It’s little wonder they’ve held the attention of various generations of audiences over the course of forty-plus years.