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The Doors - Strange Days CD (album) cover

STRANGE DAYS

The Doors

 

Proto-Prog

4.20 | 348 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars When I reviewed The Doors' first album, I said that, although the record deserved 5 stars for its importance and for the quality of some of its tracks, for me it is not the best album by the American band, and it doesn't quite reach perfection. STRANGE DAYS, on the other hand, though maybe less groundbreaking than THE DOORS, is, for me, their best work and their crowning masterpiece.

In this album the music has taken a shift towards the darker side of the spectrum. Morrison's lyrics are more obscure, weirder, even more personal; Densmore's drumming is more present, Krieger's guitar more haunting, more hallucinating, and Manzarek's keyboards are much more psychedelic, narcotic, trip-inducing. But the whole band's music changes as a result: whereas THE DOORS was, in spite of its rather dark corners, still rock-pop with just some shamanistic touches, STRANGE DAYS is a complete shamanic ritual with rock songs as background, a complete psychedelic and psychological voyage through the inner, more confused, yet more aware, corners of Morrison's mind. If their debut album was "California rock" made under the influence of mind enhancing substances (to open "the Doors of Perception"), this second album is a mind-travel on its own, this is the mind-altering substance, the music itself.

The 2007 re-issue by Rhino Records is, again, a success. In this case we don't get a "higher" version of the album as the speed-problem was only present in the first record by the band. What we get here is, of course, liner notes, more pictures, and, sound-wise, a much crisper, clearer experience of the already-decently recorded album (for 1967, that is). The clarity of the sound is so high that we can even hear some details that were lost in the older versions, as a couple of vocal harmonies and some guitar arpeggios. The extra tracks are a "false starts and studio dialogue" of "People are Strange" and "Love me Two Times", take 3 (by this time the necessity to do multiple takes in The Doors' albums was starting, as Morrison was also beginning to be quite problematic to work with in a studio).

Strange Days (10/10) From the start we get an introduction to the new psychedelic voyage courtesy of The Doors. The menacing, obscure keyboard notes that start the song give us the idea of a zigzagging mind which dwells between absurd figures, oblique streets, funny faces, like the vision of a person with perfect eyesight wearing extremely big eyeglasses; everything distorted. Fantastic song.

You're lost Little Girl (9/10) What could be more intriguing than this song? The opening lines are so dark, menacing. Suddenly Morrison sings about a little girl; the odd pairing of lyrics and music work wonderfully. I don't love the chorus, but the verse is just superb. Singing of a lost little girl, the song seems to tell us that the singer is lost, not knowing who he is. Almost fantastic.

Love me two times (8/10) The most "normal" rock song in the album, an entertaining number that bears the same mark of quality of every song in The Doors' early output. Manzarek's keyboards give this song a strange aura, an ironic smell. Good.

Unhappy Girl (8/10) This incredibly-short song starts with a descending figure that reeks of psychedelia, and then turns into a more regular song. Another good song.

Horse Latitudes (?/10) Not really a song but studio noises under Morrison's voice reciting a weird poem. More of an experiment than a track (Botnick tells us so in the booklet, about how the band tried to use the studio after hearing SGT. PEPPER for the first time), it blends perfectly with the start of the next song.

Moonlight Drive (9/10) The song that started it all, the one that, legend tells us (well, and many Manzarek's and Morrison's biographers) Jim sung to Ray in Venice Beach and that astounded the latter so much that a project for a rock band was formed. The guitar notes by Krieger give this otherwise regular song a strange, dreamy, multi-color (like a Kaleidoscope) flavor. Krieger does so little in this song, yet he does SO MUCH. A good, very good weird song, weird because, although at first it sounds like a happy, merry-go-round song, Morrison and Krieger makes us doubt a lot about the true nature of the dancer, or the driver, in this case. Should the girl trust him? I don't know, but we can trust this song to give us some entertaining 3 minutes.

People are Strange (10/10) There's not much that I could say that would do this minimal track justice. Packed in 2 minutes, the same two minutes that other bands need just to get a song started, is so much wit, irony, sarcasm, joke, desperation, helplessness, LSD. Morrison was starting to see things differently, with other eyes, with The Lizard King'seyes. Superb.

My Eyes have seen you (8.5/10) Another more "normal" song, a straight rocker but with the same dark, evil impetus of most The Doors' songs (of the early period, we haven't gotten to "Tell all the People" yet). This new recording is so fantastic, everything sounds so incredibly clear. Good, because this album deserves to come "stoned, immaculate" to the ears. Great song.

I can't see your Face in my Mind (9/10) What a dark, ominous start. Morrison almost cries because he can't see her face in his mind. Is it because he is so out-of-himself that he can't see her? Is it because he is seeing HIMSELF so much that he can't picture anybody else's face in his mind? Is it finally happening, Morrison and The Lizard King starting to part ways? This band surely had a strange way to write songs talking about (or TO) a woman.

When the Music's Over (10/10) This is "The End" for this record, another epic conclusion. Though less shocking and insane than the last track of their debut, this is actually a superior song, with everything falling in place, from the rhythm to the sound of the organ, from Morrison's vocal delivery to Krieger's minimal-yet-important input. Instead of the shamanistic, LSD-induced, Oedipal, psychological ritual of "The End", we get a more carefully-constructed, focused, calmed song that mixes some ethanol with the acid. The climax-after-the-storm near the end doesn't reach the level of ecstasy of the tribalistic dance at "The End's" finish, but works perfectly after several minutes of just Morrison and the bass (played in keys by Manzarek) making the mind-trip more unreal. A superb conclusion.

All in all, a better album than the first one and, without a doubt in my mind, The Doors' best and highest masterpiece. Darkness, Acid, Rituals, Freud, Psychedelia, all have come together to, finally, give birth to The Lizard King, something that, sadly, was not so good in terms of musical-production for the band.

Recommended for: Everyone. The minimum desire to get a great classic rock recording qualifies you to fit this recommendation.

Not recommended for: If you want only "modern" music, well.

.actually, even you should get this album. It sounds so present-day, so original, so unique. This hasn't been done again. Prog? I can swear that many prog giants heard this and got inspiration. That's why this is in the "Proto-Prog" category, isn't it?

Creative-wise, those were truly Strange Days. Great Days.

The T | 5/5 |

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