The Doors' second album `Strange Days' was released in late 1967, less than a year after their sensational eponymous debut.
From the arresting album cover image of circus freaks performing on a sidewalk to the moody, minor-key dominant melodies, SD was an unfashionably dark portrait of the 1967 counter-culture, dominated as it was by utopian-inspired psychedelia and demands for a radical re-ordering of societal norms. Oozing from Morrison's poetic lyrics delivered in his haunting baritone are signs of uncertainty and looming discord ("Straaaange days have found us, Straaange days have tracked us down...as we run from the day to a strange night of stone"), an early prophecy of the riots and violent social protest which burst onto the streets and campuses of the Western world in 1968. `People are Strange' captures precisely the loneliness and isolation of city life in the late 20th century, its jaunty keyboard-driven rhythm at odds with the subject matter of Morrison's menacing lyrics hinting at psychosis and alienation.
SD is at the same time The Doors' most confident and focussed album but the darkest. It has the strongest, most consistent theme. It may fall just short of the seminal debut and the curtain-closer `LA Woman' in moments of sheer musical brilliance, but nevertheless lingers long in the memory and has a special place in the rock music history of the 1960s.
The 2007 40th Anniversary re-mix is superb, BTW; though the pair of `extras' (a spare take of `Love me two Times' and a few minutes of false starts and chat prior to recording `People are Strange') are hardly worthy of inclusion.
on 11 September 2012
STRANGE DAYS, like the best music of the major bands of 1960s, encapsulates the disillusionment of the youth and a need for a radical reordering of society. In many ways, STRANGE DAYS is The Doors' best album. Dark, melodic, and richly poetic, nowhere else do they manage to create such a compelling portrait of the blossoming counterculture. Gone is the more poppy elements of their debut. Instead, The Doors fill STRANGE DAYS with songs about lost girls, isolation ("People Are Strange"), radically shifting cultural norms (title cut), and psychedelic epic poetry about wanting the world and wanting it right now ("When the Music's Over)". "Love Me Two Times," a song about a solider going away to Viet Nam and wanting to be with his lover, expresses the frustration that many felt at that senseless war. "Moonlight Drive," the song Jim sung to Manzarek when he wanted to start a band, is a love song, but one that turns musical convention on its head. "Horse Latitudes," a wonderfully odd, very disturbing recording of Morrison reading one of his poems, further contributes to the very dark, moody atmosphere that the band successfully maintains throughout the entire album. "When the Music's Over," a brooding masterpiece, deals with ecological issues, organized religion, and wanting the world right now. This is the true centrepiece of the album, and, as the Amazon review says, a rallying cry to the budding counterculture.
The cover art is one of the best and most appropriate covers I have ever seen for an album. The cover gives you a glimpse into what you will find on the album: a freakshow, a world where people are trying to find their own way and how the generation gap grew leaps and bounds in the 1960s. The cover art tells us we a long way from the staunch, McCarthy-driven 1950s, where the world made a lot more sense to people. Albums like this would never have been released during the 1940s and 1950s. Just by looking at the cover, you could tell this was a radical departure from the musical sensibilities of the preceeding decade. This definitely isn't your parent's music.
What makes STRANGE DAYS so revelatory is how undeniably dark this is. In many ways, this very dark undercurrent makes the music on STRANGE DAYS all the more radical. Released at the height of the "All you need is love" mentality embraced by much of the counterculture, The Doors offer this visionary music. Buy wedding dark, deeply apocalyptic lyrics and very moody, depressing music to very poppy elements and consistently stunning melodies, The Doors present a very different and much more dangerous picture of society. Much of the genius of STRANGE DAYS is, while it is very poppy, it totally reinvents the subject matter of pop, creating an aural snapshot of the fear, uncertainty, and growing social and political unrest that was rapidly spreading throughout the youth in the 1960s. While The Beatles were singing it's getting better, The Doors, much like T. S. Eliot, were expressing fear and isolation and confronting the dark undercurrents of their time.
All of these elements, along with The Doors' unique sound and undeniably powerful musical talents, make STRANGE DAYS one of rock's most essential albums. Although I prefer the debut to this for sentimental reasons, The Doors never equaled this masterpiece again. They simply could not maintain the densely rich, dark atmosphere, the genius song-writing, or the fantastic psychedelia. This, along with THE DOORS, stand tall among the very best that rock has to offer.
on 1 June 2007
Not too much to say about Strange Days -it's probably my favourite of all The Doors albums. I bought my first Doors LP (Waiting for The Sun) in 1968. In mono, LOL. They've been with me all my life, it seems, and Strange Days is utter perfection. Vocally, instrumentally, productionwise, it is just *perfect*, & remains exactly so after four decades, and will going on six, seven, fifteen.
Two songs that haven't been mentioned: the wonderful Moonlight Drive (the song that Jim sang to Ray on Venice Beach that got the whole trip started) and My Eyes Have Seen You, a breathtaking example of The Doors musical & production values thst set them apart from way back to now. Have to disagree re Horse Latitudes - a spoken poem with a tremendous atmospheric soundtrack. Fits in perfectly.
I cannot imagine my life without this record.
"Strange Days" continued the breakout of the Doors, back in the flowering of the 1960s music scene -- which is admittedly a great place to start. Their sophomore album showed no signs of a slump, polishing up the rough blues'n'rock of their first album, and continuing into weirder, more intense territory.
It opens with the dark, hallucinatory beauty of "Strange Days," with Jim Morrison's rich voice singing distantly, "Strange days have found us/Strange days have tracked us down/They're going to destroy/Our casual joys..." His melancholy vocals are totally at odds with the energetic drums, keyboard and bouncy melody.
It's followed by the affectionate-sounding "You're Lost, Little Girl," and the deliciously stompy-bluesy "Love Me Two Times." Having hooked listeners in, the Doors spill out a stream of bluesy rock'n'roll -- sometimes it's dusty and raw, and sometimes it's flavoured with keyboard. And at the end there's a haunting pair of slow, atmospheric rockers -- the darkly enticing "I Can't See Your Face in My Mind," and the sprawling electrobluesy "When the Music's Over."
"Strange Days" does pretty much the same thing as the Doors' first album -- a catchy intro, blues-rocky middle parts, and a haunting, long outro that lingers in your mind. The big difference is that in this album, their music is less striking, but it is more polished and experienced.
That polish is especially present in the music -- Robby Krieger played some brilliantly flexible guitar, whether it was lean rock riffs or a funky little tune, and John Densmore was equally good with some quirky drums. Ray Manzarek flavoured the whole thing with marimba and colourful waves of keyboard. Most of the time this worked -- the only real exception is the dark, mildly frightening "Horse Latitudes," which is a good experimental track, but it feels out of place.
But Morrison gave the music that extra boost into genius. He had a rich, full voice that could flower into a croon, a murmur, or an impassioned howl. And his songwriting was pretty much poetry, full of strange imagery and passions ("The face in the mirror won't stop/The girl in the window won't drop/A feast of friends/Alive, she cried/Waiting for me outside...").
The Doors continued doing what they did best in "Strange Days," a blend of blues and psychedelic rock'n'roll. Definitely a deserving classic.
Oozes charisma emanating from the pores of Satyr lust - encased in a pair of black leather strides. The music is upbeat bar room boogie suddenly bathed in the psychedelic luxury of pathos. Invoking memories of times and places like no other recording - this beams memories.
So it takes the listener on a fairground swirl, each track backed with pure unfiltered vocal emotion - as the Admirals son takes the prow. Within his vocal discharge he summons a male vastness, revealing a beacon of his internal loneliness. Within the 60's effusion of universal brotherhood he detailed the isolation and disorientation of 1960's America.
Launching a thousand visions of distopia because "When the Music's Over" the earth lies screaming. An alchemy of the Doors, whilst rooted in the 60's, was to transcend it. They detailed a particular vision which melds despair into ecstasy. Drawing on the same pool of genuine creation as VU, the lyrics rise above the pop to enter one flap of the tent of the sensual.
Strange Days; the need to keep on running and heading longingly into the lost little girl. It all leaps up with the bar room reverie feel of a switch turned on to deliver the Moonlight Drive. People are Strange, one anthem for a weird revolution - is a call to over turn the straight.
Into My eyes have seen you; is an x ray snap of lust, slowly bathed in radio waves of bringing in the woman. A constant clash occurs between pessimism and ecstasy, all explodes through the record.
Meanwhile the music is sublime cocktail lounger era of weirdness, Martin Denny back from Vietnam emblazoned with shell shocked multi hued shades of horror, now transcribed into a musical form of bliss.
on 7 February 2007
The Doors back catalogue has been due a makeover for years, and wow, haven't they spent some effort on it. The sound quality on these discs has never been bettered in my opinion. If you're thinking of upgrading your entire Doors collection, consider the Perception Box Set, if not read on...
My Eyes Have Seen You... Unhappy Girl... Strange Days... When the Music's Over... The Doors' second album Strange Days takes up where the first album leaves off. And, if anything, it's a more cohesive body of work. It features the Doors experimenting with Moogs and overdubs (in a quaint 60s way). Fab. When the Music's Over, press the start button again.
The bonus cuts here are 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...
on 17 February 2007
I never knew this CD was going to be this good when I first bought it. In fact, I got it for the sake of filling up my collection of The Doors' music. How wrong I was. This is their greatest album out of the six studio albums they have released. The title track is a bit eerie yet catchy at the same time, "When The Music's Over" is a masterpiece, considerably better and more cheerful than "The End", which was released on the band's debut album. The blending of "Horse Latitudes" with "Moonlight Drive" was a great job, and "Love Me Two Times" is just a track that is out of this world. "People Are Strange" is quite good as well, "My Eyes Have Seen You" is also very enjoyable. "I Can't See Your Face In My Mind" brings out so much emotion, especially the sadder side, but that doesn't stop the song to be The Doors hard at work. "You're Lost Little Girl" and "Unhappy Girl" are pleasing to listen to, which are necessary and crucial songs to the album that link up all the masterpieces. From happy to sad, and from eerie to catchy, this CD is essential in not just The Doors collection, but any CD collection. I'd rate one hundred and three stars if I had the choice, but sadly, it's only five. So, buy, stick it in your CD player, play from beginning to end and start all over again!
on 31 May 2013
I bought this album because I was a huge Doors fan in my teenage years and this was my favourite Doors album of all. I was really hoping they had done a decent job of remastering it for the digital age. My yardstick is the remasters of the Rolling Stones albums which are incredibly good. When I first owned this LP it was a vinyl copy that I found used in a store that sold musical equipment.
The moment I found that record will always stay with me. I lifted it off the shelf and stared at the cover. I couldn't see the name of the band or the album but I was gripped by the image of the cavorting circus people on the cover. Then I saw the poster on the wall. It was a real feeling of falling through the rabbit hole. A fabulous trick and it remains one of the all-time great record cover designs. The album still had its original paper inner sleeve, with a very cool black and white pic of the band, so I think that album was pretty old and maybe even an original pressing. I wish to god I still had it today. In any event, even on my crappy old record player this record sounded stunning and I was soon sucked into the carnival-esque world of the Doors. Strange Days became one of my all-time favourite records and I got more and more into late 60s and early 70s music, which to my mind was WAY better than the pap being played on the radios those days (early 80s).
In any event I was pretty stoked to see that this record and other Doors albums had been remastered (or remixed rather) and re-released later on. I had to pick up a copy. What's truly awesome is that the music has lost none of its power over the years. It's still as unique and haunting as it was all those years ago. I busted this out and listened to it again with the recent death of Ray Manzerek and boy did it take me back. I'm really glad I discovered The Doors when I was a teenager. Best time of your life to get into them I reckon. Some cynics might dismiss this music now as being 'too druggy' or overly mystical but I don't get that at all. Most of these songs are love songs. Jim always got attention for other reasons, but the guy could write a song too. Particular favourites are Strange Days (of course), You're Lost Little Girl, My Eyes Have Seen You and Unhappy Girl.
Of course, When the Music's Over is pretty amazing too, but it's these little simple songs that work best for me. The Doors were, after all, a pop band, albeit a dark and twisted pop band. If you think I'm smoking something saying that, listen again. Yes they were fantastically gothic in many ways but this is pop music. Nothing wrong with that! Not the way they made it anyway...
Just a note on the remixes. It certainly sounds good enough on my stereo. I wish I could do a comparison with that early vinyl copy I owned but unfortunately it has long since disappeared. I'm just glad they took the effort to revisit these recordings and make them available to music lovers of the digital age.
on 23 November 2010
I don't usually bother looking at reviews of albums, especially one like this that has been part of my life since I bought a vinyl version in 1968. However, no other album has a place in my life like this one. Quite simply this is the best album from the greatest rock band that has ever walked the planet. Their dependence on Jim is evident by the fact that they have produced nothing since his death worthy of The Doors name. So this is the epitaph of a rock genius. Anyway, that's my colours fastened to the mast!
This CD version is a delight. I still play vinyl, but this is a rare example of improvement when re-mastered onto CD. I think this is largely because CDs can make use of silence so much better than vinyl, so When The Music's Over springs out with a freshness that takes you back to The Roundhouse 1968, for those of us lucky enough to be there. For those that weren't, this is THE album to take you into The Doors. Play around with The Doors and Light My Fire; jump to LA Woman and it's polished musicianship, but ultimately take on this album. Someone described WTMO in disparaging terms above. Well, people are strange. Frankly, if you don't get this track then get advice!
on 23 September 2013
This gets 4stars because it's the Doors, and they WERE great!
But, as often, these 're-mastered' editions leave something to be desired, and in this case it's the RAWNESS of the original recordings that has been left on the cutting room floor. Experts, eh?!
It''s fine for for CD easy listening, but doesn't match the original vinyl recordings for that 'earthy, gritty' feel.
I thank God I have them all!