Ray Manzarek – The Golden Scarab (1974)

The Golden Scarab‘ is the title of the debut studio album released in 1974 by former Doors keyboardist Raymond ‘Ray’ Daniel Manzarek through Mercury Records. The album was recorded in 1973 and officially issued on 28 March 1974, after the dissolution of the Doors in 1973 which, at that time, was a trio consisting of Manzarek, Robby Krieger (guitars), and John Densmore (drums and percussion).

Ray Manzarek – The Golden Scarab (1974), frontal cover artwork. Image source: www.discogs.com

The recording sessions for the ‘The Golden Scarab’ took place at Sunset Sound studios in Los Angeles, California. The entire LP was an Egyptian-themed record which abounds in both literary and spiritual allegations. It is a very interesting mixture of jazz fusion, blues rock, psychedelic rock, classic rock, R&B (i.e. rhythm and blues), and electronic rock.

The album has a total length of 45 minutes and 17 seconds and was produced by Bruce Botnick (ex-Doors producer as well) and Bob Brown. It was received with mixed reviews by several specialized music magazines, the most favourably of which was Allmusic with a review of three stars out of a total of five. In stark contrast to Allmusic, Uncut only gave it half a star out of 5 (a tremendously unjust review I might add) and The Encyclopedia of Popular Music gave it 2 out of 5 stars.

On the original 1974 release, the album consisted of 2 sides, each with 4 tracks. Subsequently, on Ray Manzarek’s follow-up ‘The Whole Thing Started with Rock & Roll Now It’s Out of Control’ (released during the same year), ‘The Golden Scarab’ has three additional/bonus tracks. The entire tracklist of the album is as follows:

  1. He Can’t Come Today (written by Ray Manzarek);
  2. Solar Beat (written by Ray Manzarek);
  3. Downbound Train (originally written by Chuck Berry);
  4. The Golden Scarab (written by Ray Manzarek);
  5. The Purpose of Existence Is? (written by Ray Manzarek);
  6. The Moorish Idol (written by Ray Manzarek);
  7. Choose Up and Choose Off (written by Ray Manzarek);
  8. Oh Thou Precious Nectar Filled Form (A Little Fart) (written by Ray Manzarek);
  9. Whirling Dervish (bonus track; written by Ray Manzarek);
  10. I Wake Up Screaming (bonus track; written by Ray Manzarek and Danny Sugerman);
  11. Bicentennial Blues (Love It Or Leave It) (bonus track; written by Ray Manzarek).

The recording personnel was as follows:

  • Ray Manzarek – lead vocals, keyboards, piano, organ, synthesizer, and kalimba;
  • Larry Carlton – guitar;
  • Jerry Scheff – bass guitar;
  • Tony Williams – drums;
  • Oscar Brashear – trumpet;
  • Mayuto Correa – wood block, bongos, and congas;
  • Milt Holland – pandeiro, cabasa, quica, African cowbell;
  • Ernie Wats – tenor saxophone;
  • George Bohanon – trombone;
  • Steve Forman – tuned cowbells, whistles, guiro, tuned wood blocks;
  • Patti Smith – additional vocals on the bonus track ‘I Wake Up Screaming’.

Therefore, that being said and without any further needless ado or unwanted spoilers on my behalf, I wholeheartedly recommend integrally listening to all of the tracks of the album embedded below via Youtube. Enjoy and all the best!

Documentation sources and external links:

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