on 25 July 2012
First I must say that I'm not a die hard Doors-fan, but nevertheless I greatly enjoy their first and by far their, in my opinion, best album. I have not listened closely to the other editions of this album so I cannot say that this or that is really different. But what I can say is that there is nothing here that sounds unnatural, like, for instance, the first ZZ Top remixes of their 70's albums. And also, I think it makes sense to let people hear the original lyrics to some of the songs, as in "Break on through", where there is a line of the lyrics where Jimbo on the original releases has been edited to sing "she gets" three times, which doesn't make any sense. Now you can hear the whole phrase as it is supposed to be ("she gets high", makes more sense), whithout being artistically limited by the morals of the day. A small detail one might think but still a great improvement in my opinion. There are a few other similar improvements, as you might hear. Other is that the instrumentation is much clearer of course, and if there has been changes to include alternate solos instead of the originals, for instance, I would also as a hardcore fan be pissed of, and if that is so I can't tell since I've never owned any of the first editions. All I can say is that this edition sounds as clear and crystal an album recorded in the sixties may sound. Oh yes, another change to be done is the speed correction of the music, which to me is not super obvious (so now you can acctually play along without detuning your guitar), but might sound weird to someone who has been listening to the original outputs of this album for forty years. I will nevertheless think of the speed correction as an improvement since it originally was a default caused by the limitations of the technique available back in the mid 60's.
I give this edition my recommendations.
This 1966 debut album by The Doors is ranked #42 in Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 greatest albums of all time and seen as a landmark in rock history. The charismatic front-man and poetic songwriter Jim Morrison was backed by three first class creative musicians and this debut announced that something special had arrived on the rock music scene. Right from the get-go, The Doors demonstrated they were not limited to a single musical style but wove together rock, blues, psychedelia, poetic ballads and longer experimental elegiac pieces like `The End' to build something unique and different. That you can crank up the volume on `Light My Fire' after almost 50 years and still be captured by the visceral get-up-and-dance excitement just says it all; it never seems to age.
The band took its name from Aldous Huxley's work `The Doors of Perception' wherein the author referenced a quote attributed to William Blake "If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite".
As with The Rolling Stones' `Beggars Banquet', a playback error in the analog master tapes meant this album had for decades been heard at a 3.5% slower speed than it was actually recorded in the studio, making every song sound one semitone flat. Surprisingly until 2006 nobody noticed: this 2007 `40th Anniversary' re-mix finally rectifies the recording speed issue, and the transformation is astounding. The sound quality of this re-mix is superb, especially clear and sharp for a 1966 recording and unconditionally recommended to all Doors fans. To those of a younger generation who may be curious to discover what all the fuss was about, this is where you should start.
The Doors' 1967 debut album is a truly astonishing piece of music, sounding, for me, just as fresh and original nearly half a century after its recording. Of course, the unique sound of this band was the result of a number of key factors, not least the amazing vocals from front man Jim Morrison, whose ability to switch between lyrical, floating harmonies and scorching yelps and screams has not been matched since. But we shouldn't forget that the remainder of the band produced one of the tightest sounds of any band, all underpinned by John Densmore's superlative drumming, Bobby Krieger's brilliantly judged guitar playing (just the right mix of the subtle and the soaring - the latter amply demonstrated in his magnificent solo during Light My Fire - no need for prog-rock pyrotechnics here), and (driving the band's unique sound) Ray Manzarek's keyboarding skills, whose sound is right to the fore, frequently replacing (what ordinarily would be) guitar parts. The band's resulting (keyboard-led) sound has never been equalled, though it has clearly influenced many bands, ranging from Doors' contemporaries such as Iron Butterfly through to punk's own The Stranglers.
This debut album also demonstrated that the band were not to be limited to a single musical style, but instead showcased their own influences and heritage, such as on the two non-original songs here, Kurt Weill's jaunty, Cabaret-style Alabama Song and Willie Dixon's blues standard, and provocatively titled, Back Door Man. Apparently, this latter song was a live favourite of the band and you can see why with Manzarek's hypnotic keyboard riff and Morrison's impassioned and increasingly manic vocals.
The album opens with (possibly) my all-time favourite Doors song, Break On Through (To The Other Side). It is not possible for me to listen to this song's beginning without goose-pimples going down my back, as the band begin to play (in the order) Densmore then Manzarek then Krieger, before Morrison's echo-laden vocal intones, 'You know the day destroys the night, night divides the day....' - simply magic. A towering album opener to rank with the very best ever (Thunder Road, Like A Rolling Stone, Five Years, Sunday Morning, etc). The band's blues influences shine through again on Soul Kitchen and Twentieth Century Fox, whilst I Looked At You and Take It As It Comes are near-perfect pop songs which could (should) have been massive selling singles. In terms of Morrison's most ethereal vocal performances here, for me, these are delivered on the sublime ballads End Of The Night and The Crystal Ship (the latter also featuring one of Morrison's most poetic lyrics, 'Before you slip into unconsciousness, I'd like to have another kiss').
But, I guess, the album's two (most widely) acknowledged masterpieces are the concluding songs on each 'side' (in old vinyl parlance). Light My Fire is simply one of the most finely constructed songs in all music - the highlight for me probably being Krieger's solo - whilst the 11-minute epic The End is as audacious a way to end an album as any I've heard (answers on a postcard, please), and will forever conjure up the (admittedly sad) image of US helicopters napalming they know not what. It's powerful stuff.
It really is difficult to find any fault with this enduring masterpiece.
on 8 January 2012
[NOTE: I am reissuing my Amazon.com reviews on Amazon.co.uk. This review was originally published on Amazon.com January 13, 2000 and also March 6, 2000
[The Year was 1967, and Rock was king., January 13, 2000]
[In the magical year of 1967 The Doors came out!, March 6, 2000]]
The Doors were a number of bands that had seminal releases in that magical year of 1967, which was the height of the Sixties cultural phenomenon. To fully appreciate the splendour of this album one most have at least a passing knowledge of what was happening in the music world at that time. This was the single most creative year in rock history. During the Summer of Love, Sgt Pepper was released (Magical Mystery Tour, while not a proper album, was also released later that year) by The Beatles.. Hendrix's Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold as Love was released, also so was Pink Floyd's debut with original singer Sid Barrett. The Grateful Dead debuted that year. Jefferson Airplane released Surrealistic Pillow. Cream released Disraeli Gears. Buffalo Springfield released their debut and the Again record that year. The Who Sell Out came out. The Velvet Underground with Nico with Andy Warhol was released also. Arlo Guthry also released Alice's Restaurant that year (the title cut as legendary and long as Iron Butterfly's In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida). The Beach Boys' Smile, the most famous unfinished album of rock history, was slated for release this year, but it fell apart after Wilson thought the Beatles topped them in Sgt Pepper. Fleetwood Mac also formed in 1967. And The Doors released this album, and Strange Days.
Also, in that magical year of music and culture, we get this, a stunning document of a superb band. Not only that, it was their debut. As I detailed in the paragraph above, several important albums were released this year of '67. The Doors were up against some very tough competition. But they shine, do they ever shine. You know you're in for a treat as soon as Break on Thru starts. Then it transcends into a funky song called Soul Kitchen (a song about sex, perhaps?). The Crystal Ship is a great, if drug related, song. (Crystal Ship=drug syringe). And what band do you possibly know that can make a song originally from a German Opera fit into a rock album? That is exactly what The Doors did with this one by including The Alabama Song. Light My Fire was of course an instant classic and their biggest hit (along with Touch Me). The interesting thing about that was they were expecting Twentieth Century Fox to be the big hit, and didn't expect anything off Light My Fire. Unfortunately, have been unable to find the single version on any of their (now) official releases. They cover the Blues (Back Door Man), do strait and pure rock n' roll (Take it Easy, Break on Thru), and fit in literary allusions (End of the Night part of it is originally, I think, Emerson's poetry. I might be wrong, but it is one of the more famous poets). Of course, there is the epic The End, suitably placed at the end of the album (imagine that!). With this break thru song, Morrison the poet really shines. This is the song that Morrison screamed, tho' edited for official release, he wanted to kill his father and f- his mother. Another literary illusion to Oedipus, and also Freud. Because of the unedited live lyrics, this song drew them to the attention of Paul Rothchild, their then future producer. It got them thrown out of Whiskey A Go-Go, which is a legendary rock club in California.
Given the other albums released that year, it makes this record all the more exceptional. Extreme musical innovation and experimentation were obvious everywhere that year, not the least in this album, it is amazing to hear this record. Obviously, if they can stand up against the very stiff competition of that year, they had to be doing something right.
From a personal perspective, this is a deeply sentimental album. This is what got me into The Doors. Morrison's poetry inspired me to try some of my own. I am no where near the poet he was, and mine just seem insipid and pale compared next to his. That is because I am not a poet, but a fiction writer. The first seven songs are very special when the whole of Side I is played. It reminds me of days gone by. The End is classic. Sadly, The Doors never reached this height again (Strange Days is a psychedelic masterpiece however.) Waiting for the Sung and Soft Parade are their two lackluster albums; Soft Parade being a failed Sgt Pepper. Then they scoured back hard with two bluesy albums. But this will always be my favorite.
on 26 April 2010
This classic, outstanding album, first released in 1967 on the Elektra label is, undoubtedly, one of the most impressive and compelling recordings in rock music history. It is also most certainly one of the very best first-outings by a rock group. Indeed, The Doors were one of the most exciting, influential and controversial rock bands of the swinging sixties, featuring the legendary genius Jim Morrison as The Doors lead singer, Ray Manzarek controlling the spiralling electric organ, John Denmore on drums and Robby Krieger on gurtar. The Doors never actually recruited a bass player so the sound was, endearingly, highlighted by Ray Manzarek's predominant electric organ, providing a hypnotic backdrop for Jim Morrison's captivating vocals, who rides through the inventive musical landscapes with finesse.
The Doors (1967) album introduced the world to their adventurous, startling fusion of rock, blues, classical and jazz. These diverse blend of styles intertwine beautifully with the poetic, often thought-provoking lyrics, making for an incredibly powerful, innovative album that has set standards for generations. The opener is the belting and infectious 'Break On Through (To The Other Side)', one of my personal favourites. 'Break On Through' was also The Doors debut single release. The propulsive rhythm flows gloriously with notably nifty guitar work courtesy of Robby Krieger, entwined with Ray Manzarek's bewitching, ever-effective electric organ interludes and incessant, pounding drum beats from John Denmore,and not to mention Jim Morrison's rocketing vocals. An extremely credible start to the album and the single deserved far much more commercial recognition than it initially received at the time.
The stomping, thunderous rock of 'Soul Kitchen' is a cracking affair, complemented by Morrison's mesmerising vocal delivery while the beguiling Oriental mystery of 'The Crystal Ship' is a pure masterpiece, mellowing the mood somewhat. Beginning with a magical guitar riff, blended with the customary electric organ, this leads us into another compelling, stomping rock number 'Twentieth Century Fox', while the fun 'Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)' making for an immediately striking and rather diverting experiment. Morrison's deep, sonorous voice pulsates seamlessly through all the enchanting ebbs and flows.
'Light My Fire' is an out and out classic and one of The Doors major landmarks. Hauntingly atmospheric with its funeral-like electric organ backdrop and Morrison's stirring delivery. They enjoyed their first real taste of significant commercial success and acceptance with 'Light My Fire', swiftly topping the US Billboard Chart (though barely dented the UK Top 50 on its original release; upon its re-issue in the summer of 1991 it flew up into the Top 10). The full seven-minute version is a pure sonic masterpiece, allowing us to enjoy the groups ever-dynamic playing. Another utterly hypnotic affair.
The mid-tempo rock number 'Back Door Man' captures yet more powerful, expert playing, hosting a rich and deep performance from Morrison who also enhances the tremendous and startling production of 'I Looked At You'.
The dreamy, mysterious 'End Of The Night' highlights the groups remarkable affinity for shrewd, poetic, profound lyrics. Beautiful. 'Take It As It Comes' kicks up the tempo again and this held ample commercial potential (as did practically every track on here), while the tinkling 11-minute oedipal drama 'The End' is literally spine-tingling and has to be one of The Doors most daring, compulsive outings that is completely haunting with its non-stop melodicism, dynamic tension and sombre, dreamy tone.
This album is a pure masterpiece, ranking (in my opinion) among their very best, most innovative work. Excellence all the way. It also became a major seller and spending over two years on the US Billboard chart.
on 5 May 2007
This latest series of Doors remasters represent the second upgrading of the band's legacy....by common consent, the very first Doors CDs were streets ahead of the needle-drop, unremastered, tinny products that customers were ripped off by in the early CD age....my 1990 CD of 'L.A. Woman' still sounds great and I've no plans to change it.
The quality may have something to do with the fact that the Doors original albums were so well engineered in the first place....they always did sound ahead of the game, with gleaming, up-front production, beautifully recorded guitars and keyboards and resonant percussion.
There was a previous upgrade in 1999, which improved the bass frequencies; and now we have this latest, and most controversial, Doors edition.
The booklet warns you that you won't be hearing the original 1967 album; that's because the master tapes have been remixed to give new emphasis to certain instruments; plus some new Morrison vocal tracks are used, most notably on 'The End'.
Naturally, some people have objected to this...why not leave it as it was? And whilst I sympathise with that viewpoint, having heard this CD, I have to say I'm not about to make the same objection. Firstly, the sound is magnifiscent: the debut was always the cheapest-sounding Doors album, being done on 2-track equipment. Now, whilst it still sounds cheap compared to say, Morrison Hotel or The Soft Parade, the sound is glossier and fuller...and the remixes do have a 'new light through old windows' effect on the listener, which is not at all off-putting.
The bonus tracks are also very welcome (it was where the last set of remasters fell down, as the Doors' albums tended to be a bit on the short side)and, at budget price, there is no reason not to pick this one up.
on 9 February 2004
11 tracks and 11 classics from one of the greatest debut albums of all time. Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek from the beginning must have realised that to live up to this album would have been a near impossible task.
Break on Through is a truly beautiful album starter and from the start you get the feeling of what the doors were all about. The sublime Light My Fire remains the stand out track of the album, partly down to Manzareks majestry in the first 15 seconds. In The End is also a fine way to end a fine album, the Lizard Kings slides from word to word beautifully.
This album also contains a few less epic gems, Alabama Song, a perfect post Jack Daniels track and Soul Kitchen will always freeze my spine.
Encapture the life of one of the greatest and own this album. Go on Ride The Storm
on 15 October 2002
This debut album is one of the finest records of all time, so much so that its very existence caused problems for its creators, as they struggled to equal it again with their following albums. "Break On Through", "Twentieth Century Fox" and "Take It As It Comes" showed a superb ability to create perpetually powerful rock songs, whilst "Soul Kitchen", "The Crystal Ship" and "End Of The Night" showed a desire to be taken seriously as dramatic poets, forever making sure they would not be seen as just another rock band.
The album's two key highlights though, are "Light My Fire", a superb hit single that mixed erotic fantasies with intense musical prowess (Will Young has helped to ruin it recently, though, with his hollow, disgustingly awful version), and "The End", the band's apocalyptic epic that sweeps and dives through hypnotic, trance like beauty.
Few albums will ever have the same tense, gritty power as The Doors managed here, which is a lasting tribute to their brilliance.
on 13 February 2003
listening to the album one can understand why Jim Morrison refused to be introduced as Jim Morrison and The Doors - the work of all of the members of the band created, moulded and defined the album that would be considered one of the greatest of the last century. the unbelievable, breakthtaking raw and dark power of the opening track cannot be explained in words until you listen to it giving it your full attention, volume high, in an almost trance-like state. the not-trying-too-hard coolness of 20th century fox, the forever-mimicked light my fire, and not to mention the often misunderstood, atmospheric, soul-consuming meditation that is the end - i cant get enough of the doors. for a greater appreciation of the man, the band and the era listen while reading either of Danny Sugerman's books - its like you are almost there.
on 19 March 2010
The first Doors LP is great, of course, but the remix proposed in this new edition is bad, wacky and non-sense: why remaster a CD which did not need improvement? (Well, we all know that the answer begins with an M and finishes O-N-E-Y, but let us not be so suspicious).
If the official cause for this new publication is that voilà! they have magically found a new quicker master of "Light My Fire", well, they could easily have replaced the "old" version with this one and leave the rest as it was. But, no, the did not. They inflicted us with sound atrocities. Listen to the very opening of the album, for example: "Break On Through" sounded amazing in the previous 1999 edition, the guitar and the bass frequencies were fully balanced and the organ was prominent, and justly so. Now, in this new version everything is dull, flat and muddier and the bass is the prominent instrument. No way!
I was silly enough to let them cheat me and convince me that this new edition needed be bought. The warning in the booklet goes: "This isn't the same album you've been listening to for the past 40 years or so" and then explains the reasons why what you have in your hands is a gem, as to say that now, finally, you have it right. Ok, very philological and bla bla bla, but you could have at least place a big stick on the album cover warning us that this is a totally different thing.
We need BETTERMENT of the sound qualities, who cares about IMPROVEMENT? Who cares that now the sound is lush and clean? The Doors have nothing to do with cleanness or luxury. So, anyone reading this and wanting to buy "The Doors" CD, please, believe me: stick with the 1999 edition at all costs, even if it means spending more money because now that edition is not as readily available. THIS is philology, my dear producers and engineers: yours is plain revisionism!