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Excellent compilation by iconic band
on 14 May 2007
The Doors are one of the groups I loved as a student and young man though they have rarely been on my playlist over the past few years as I approach middle age. I imagine that this is the case for many other music fans as Jim Morrison's driven pursuit of hedonism, rebelliousness and somewhat pretentious poetry are really the preserve of the young. Indeed, The Doors are still worshipped by many youngsters today - more than virtually any other band of their generation.
To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the beginning of their brief recording career, their six studio albums have been remixed and re-released. A new compilation has also been brought out in two formats - a "light" option featuring their best and most famous tracks on one CD and heavier dish with two CDs and a DVD. The light option is fine for me thanks but many thanks for giving us the choice...
But does the single CD include the right tracks? Mostly yes, but not totally. All present and correct are Morrison's statement of intent Break On Through (To The Other side), the haunting Riders On The Storm and funky Peace Frog, a song that doesn't always make it onto a Doors' compilation. Further highlights for me include the full version of Light My Fire, brassy Touch Me, delicate Love Street and psychedelic Strange Days with its fabulous chorus chordal sequence which makes this listener think about jumping around the room. Only he doesn't...
On the downside; there are, at seven, far too many tracks from the band's slightly over-rated debut album. Surely Soul Kitchen and the pedestrian Back Door Man should have been replaced by Waiting For The Sun and Spanish Caravan. Of the band's two most lengthy epics, the exclusion of the 10 minute When The Music's Over was probably the correct decision given the lack of space on a single CD though surely we should have had the full, still shocking version of The End rather than an edit version from Apocalypse Now which only includes half the song. All justified quibbles though overall the track selection is good and if you or I disagree any more then maybe we should be considering the two CD version instead...
Listening to these songs again, many for the first time in a few years, it's not difficult to see why The Doors are still seen as a major, iconic group in rock history. Supporting Jim Morrison's vocals, lyrics and attitude, we have Ray Manazarek's prostigious, defining keyboard talents, Robby Krieger's fluid guitar-work and John Densmore's often jazzy drums. Crucially, these three gifted musicians knew when not to play and leave space for the atmosphere to flourish as much as when to demonstrate their considerable musical chops.
The Doors' legacy has of course been enhanced by Jim Morrison's tragic yet not surprising early death. Jim may be forever young and have a special appeal to the youthful, though there's still more than enough here to appreciate as you get older. The Very Best Of The Doors is an excellent compilation giving this almost middle-aged fan licence to re-explore some of the best music made by this incredible and distinctive band. Welcome back!