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The Doors - The Doors CD (album) cover

THE DOORS

The Doors

 

Proto-Prog

4.30 | 463 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars If I had to choose one band to call it "the first rock band that showed me that rock could be good", that band would be The Doors. Even though my first actual introduction to good rock was Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody, that was just one song, and as much as I admired it, it or the band never really turned into one of my favorites. On the other hand, when I started listening to The Doors (after seeing the movie by Oliver Stone, which I shouldn't have seen as I was underage at the time), I finally realized that rock music could be good, after years of only hearing classical music. And the band and their music has stayed in my heart ever since, and nowadays I not only love their music, but also hold the band in a special place in my heart, as the first CD I ever bought (after years of Vinyl and cassettes) was a double Greatest Hits (the one with the legendary photo of Jim Morrison on the cover), and the first band I ever owned all their albums from was The Doors.

I won't get into much detail about the band and the music. I think, in this case, we can assume everybody that knows anything about rock has at least heard five or six songs by this legendary outfit from Los Angeles. I'll just share my thoughts on the album, the songs, and also about the new special 2007 remix issued in commemoration of the 40 years of the original recording.

This new edition, published by Rhino Records, has quite a few special features. First, the booklets are much more interesting now. We have a lot of photos, all the lyrics for every song, and special commentaries by The Doors' original producer Bruce Botnick and, in every album, a different music-journalist/Doors' fan. The commentaries by Botnick are quite insightful and help the listener to notice the changes, and the words by the journalists are always good pieces of music history and information.

But the most special new feature is, of course, the sound. All the albums have been remixed with the participation of the band's remaining members (Densmore, Krieger, Manzarek) and taken directly from the original analog tapes. The sound is crisp, detailed and better than ever. There are also enhancements like the possibility to hear sounds and details that weren't available in the original LP's and in the older CD versions. A few guitar chords here, a few keyboard effects there, a lot of minor things make their appearance for the first time. In the vocal department, we finally get the original, full version of all songs, like in "Break on through", where we can at last hear Morrison singing "she gets high, she gets high" instead of "she gets, she gets" due to original censorship (or fear thereof). In "The End", near the end, we can hear Morrison singing rhythmical "Kill Kill, Fuck Fuck" while the band is playing the faster section, a feature that could originally be heard in the soundtrack of APOCALYPSE NOW, that masterpiece of Cinema by Francis Ford Coppola. The final, and probably the most important change, is in the speed of the album. Botnick in his introduction announces that, after musicological research, it was determined that the music in the LP's and CD's that we have loved for the last 40 years since THE DOORS was originally recorded a notch faster, thus altering some chords and harmonies. From the booklet: "the verse chords in 'Light My Fire' should be an alternation of A minor and F- sharp minor. (.) in the original releases, the chords are A-flat minor and F-minor" (Botnick, 2006). The difference is not strikingly noticeable except maybe for "Light My Fire", where you can easily detect that the song now sounds, to use a word Morrison loved, higher. The song clocks in at 6:50 minutes, the intended length of the original track as played by The Doors, as opposed to the 7:05 minute-version we have been listening since the album was published.

That was all about the re-mix versions. Now let's talk about the album. I really won't even describe the songs, everybody knows them, but I'll give my opinions.

Break on Through (To the other side) (9/10) This is one of the most classic songs in all The Doors' catalogue, and a true brief rock anthem. The jazzy feeling thanks to Densmore rhythm makes the rock that goes above it so much ambiguous, darker, full of doubts. A fantastic introduction to the "Stranger Side", if we may call it that way.

Soul Kitchen (8.5/10) The "soul" in this song comes mostly from Manzarek's inspired little keyboard figure. Krieger only punctuates and plays over it, leaving all the room for Morrison to deliver his powerful low vocals. Good dark rocker. At times this music reminds us of what we typically associate with California music (The Beach Boys, etc) but it's like the "bizarre world version" of that already strange atmosphere.

The Crystal Ship (10/10) The first masterpiece in this album, so short, so sad, so obscure. It's like we're dwelling in a dark little room full of bad spirits, with rain in the outside, alcohol, wooden, rusty walls, and the only light comes from the reflection of the moon in the white keys in the piano which sings a memorable tune. Superb.

Twentieth Century Fox (8.5/10) A more "rocky" song, it has the usual irony and wit of all The Doors' compositions (well, almost all. There's "Tell all the People" after all).It pictures a happy-life lady, but Morrison looks at her with such a loving, naÔve eye. He knows what's all about, yet he sees something magical in it, as it should be. Good fun track.

Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) (9.5/10) One of two non-original songs in THE DOORS, it has such an elegant, classy, yet DRUNKEN-class flavor to it that is an immediate classic. If elegance was a liquor, this would be the right song for it. Great.

Light My Fire (9.5/10) All I can say is, CLASSIC. From Manzarek's intro to Morrison's vocals (with lyrical contributions by Krieger, actually the whole first verse is his), to the dialogue between Manzarek's keyboards and Krieger's guitar, with Densmore tightly keeping time in the back, the song sings for itself. Not perfect for me, maybe due to over-exposure. But fantastic nevertheless.

Back Door Man (6.5/10) For me, the weakest track in the album, the second non- original song and the most chaotic of them all. Too dirty-bluesy rock, I just don't like it that much. It seems like recorded for the sake of the lyrics, nor for any musical reason. Not awful, not even bad, but not up to the level of the rest of the album.

I Looked At You (8/10) We're back on track, though not in the highest grounds. The song starts wonderfully but I just don't like when, after a full stop, the band comes back again with Morrison screaming carelessly. Good song but could've been better.

End of the Night (9/10) This is more like it. We're back in eerie lands, in those obscure, LSD-created worlds of dangerous, hypnotic, yet arresting music. Morrison shines here, when in the second section he sings with true desperation after a brief tom-tom roll by Densmore. Very good song.

Take it As it Comes (8.5/10) Another "normal" rock song, with a more regular flavor, without so many dark overtones. A good next-to-last song which opens the way for the final ritual.

The End (10/10) Maybe from a purely musical point of view this may be seen as a erratic, absurd track. Maybe the lyrics are, for some, "psychological bulls**t". But if there is ONE track that, for me, defines this band, is this one. This is THE song, THE track, The End. From the incredibly sub-human, sub-conscious notes in the beginning, to the gradually growing atmosphere full of psychodelia, shamans, snakes, drugs, hallucination, to the final climax and the violent, insane ritualistic dance near the end, this track represent everything that was good and everything that was bad with The Doors. An anthem of Rock.

My final comments: this is a flawed masterpiece. As fantastic and magnificent (and original and unique) as it is, it's would not be a perfect 5-star album for me due to a couple of so-so tracks that should bring the rating down a notch. But that's talking about the album as a whole, and what it does FOR ME. In this case, the parts are better than their sum. And musical history wouldn't be what it is with some of them. Musical perfection was still ahead for The Doors, and they would achieve it in their next release. But I just CAN'T give this album less than 5-stars, for it appears in the dictionary next to the word "essential". To understand many of rock developments through the ages, it's essential to have this disc.

Recommended to: Everyone who wants to listen a true rock n' roll classic.

Not recommended for: Find out for yourself.

.by the way: this is a Progressive Rock website. I haven't uttered the word "prog" even ONCE during this entire review. Does it mean that this album doesn't qualify as prog for me?

This is a case where it just doesn't matter. For sure, it was influential for many prog bands, and it has many elements that make it worthy of being called "proto-prog". But, in The End, it doesn't really matter.

The T | 5/5 |

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