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The Doors are Open
on 6 February 2007
If you're thinking of buying this box set, the chances are you're already a Doors fan, and are looking to complete your collection of studio albums and/or replace old CDs or vinyl. So I'll confine my review to the merits of this box set, rather than reviewing each of the albums... there are plenty of reviews of each of the 6 albums already...
The good news is that sound quality of these recordings is first rate. I never thought the recordings poor before, even by 60s standards, but now they're crystal clear. Quite amazing, really.
The other major `plus' of this box set are the bonus cuts, and I'll take you through them. The bonus tracks are logically arranged, with outtakes etc from each album tagged on the end of the appropriate disc, as follows:
Disc 1: The Debut Album - two cuts of Moonlight Drive and one cut of Indian Summer. Moonlight Drive appears in slightly different form to that on Strange Days, with plenty of reverb on Ray's Vox organ. Nice. I think this cut appeared on the Box Set (Without a Safety Net) a few years ago. If you think Indian Summer sounds like the cut on Morrison Hotel... that's because the cut on Morrison Hotel was recorded in 1966 too!
Disc 2: Strange Days - Not so much here, just alternate takes of Love Me Two Times and People are Strange. Pity an alternative take of Strange Days didn't show up in the archives...
Disc 3: Waiting for the Sun. This album was always a mixed bag of goodies, and the bonus tracks are no exception. Celebration of the Lizard is the highlight here. This was the song, or piece, that was intended to fill a whole side of the album, but the band were never happy with the result. The studio cut here is not at all bad, though whether it's closer to the Doors' goal than the recording on Absolutely Live or Live in New York is a moot point. Not to Touch the Earth was an outtake from Celebration that made it onto the album as a song in its own right. Albinoni's Adagio In G Minor was always an odd one for the Door's canon methinks...
Disc 4: The Soft Parade - picks up the B-side Who Scared You, which is a pretty strong track, plus a few extra takes of Touch Me. Then we come to an odd one indeed, a song entitled Push Push, which is a little 3-chord Latin-garage thing in the La Bamba, Louie Louie or Wooly Bully vein. The band all sound pretty drunk, and we can only guess when and where it was recorded.
Disc 5: Morrison Hotel - has a whole load of extra goodies, including multiple takes of Roadhouse Blues, and jazzy versions of The Spy, Queen of the Highway and Peace Frog. I like these a lot, and think them as strong as the originals. They certainly show the band's musicianship and ability to play diverse styles of music.
Disc 6: LA Woman - picks up Orange County Suite, a bitter sweet song Jim and the band were working on not long before Jim left for Paris. It's a lovely song, and quality-wise would have belonged on LA Woman had they worked it up a little more. The other goodie is a cover of Muddy Waters' blues number Don't Go No Further with Ray on vocals.
The Doors back catalogue has been due a makeover for years, and wow, haven't they spent some effort on it. A lot of the bonus tracks have been released before (notably on the Box Set Parts 1 & 2 in 1998). But this gathers everything together, and adds a lot more goodies on top. Add to that the pristine sound quality and top-notch packaging, and you have a box set I'd unreservedly recommend.