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The Doors - The Doors CD (album) cover

THE DOORS

The Doors

 

Proto-Prog

4.30 | 458 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

TGM: Orb
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review 46, The Doors, The Doors, 1967

StarStarStarStar

'F**k yeah'

The Doors are rather an unusual outfit. On the one hand, you have full-blown psychedelic insanity with no respect for song structures, on the other, you have a blues and pop-structured output with a unique sound (mostly due to Ray Manzarek's love for the organ) and Morrison's bizarre and morbid lyrics. This album contains The Doors' three obvious staples: Break On Through, Light My Fire and The End, and those songs alone would be reason to buy the album, but the rest is generally excellent, with an occasional example of something that doesn't quite match up (Whisky Bar, especially). Essential album for anyone who likes psychedelia, which happens to include me.

Break On Through introduces the album incredibly, with a real beast of a concise (2:30) prog-pop-rock song. Morrison's brilliantly violent lyrics ('Found an island in your arms/A country in your eyes/Arms that chain us! Eyes that lie! Break on through to the other side!') and maddened vocals dominate the song, along with a guitar riff and a modified Bossa Nova beat. The organ kicks throughout, providing the song with a little more force. A huge favourite of mine. Well-worth cranking up the volume for.

The follower, Soul Kitchen, shows off a greater range of The Doors' appeal. A haunting atmosphere is created by the lyrics and odd harmony choices, and the rock moments are no less impressive. A bass hums carelessly in the background, preparing the changes in the song, while the organ alternately places itself behind the rest of the instruments, and over them during the rock moments. Robby Krieger's guitar provides a couple of twists over it, including a brief bluesy solo.

The Crystal Ship shows the more gentle qualities of The Doors, and their ability to create grandeur without any pomp, Jim Morrison's soft vocal is surprisingly excellent, given how much The Doors' harder moments rely on his raw aggression, and a beautiful contribution on piano from Ray Manzarek really makes the song, as strong as the guitar and organ are. A soft drum part showcases the diversity of John Densmore.

20th Century Fox is another different piece, with the strained bass sound rather common on this album as a rather dominant instrument. The music is all top notch, with Krieger's guitar as a particular high point. The vocals, however, don't really carry it as effectively as they do other pieces, and naturally, the lyrical content doesn't transfer well across forty years.

Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) is a bit of a weak spot, in my opinion, with an awkward bombardon-like thingummy (presumably from Manzarek) underlying the song with a cheerful two-note beat. The rest of the material, particularly Krieger's mandolin-like guitar contribution, is pretty good. I'm just not particularly impressed with this one.

Light My Fire is another of the classic Doors songs, with a catchy organ riff throughout the verses, as well as an enjoyable rhythm section, with some potent crashes from Densmore. A longer psychedelic instrumental section features an excellent extended organ solo from Manzarek, as well as a guitar solo from Robby Krieger. Morrison's moderately stoned call for drug use is fairly amusing, and actually an excellent vocal performance.

Back Door Man is a cover, with an appropriate nodding bluesy rhythm, vague lyrical improvisation, and warming-up feel. We do basically get the same few bars of music throughout, but with some excellent additions from Krieger and Manzarek, as well as a very well-suited vocal from Morrison. It is a blues, so sounds like one. You have been warned.

I Looked At You is probably the purest pop song on the album, with a foot-tapping rhythm, completely mindless lyrics. Even the organ and guitar feel dancy and rhythmic. To be fair, nothing individually is very offensive, but I just don't get into it as a whole, with way too many repeats of the 'and we're on our way...' section.

End Of The Night features a chilling atmosphere, created mostly by the very slow playing from everyone, almost suspended in time. Krieger's guitar gives slow, curious soloing, with some very well timed movements. Morrison's vocal is equally slow and haunting. Without speeding up, the band can still convey a faster or more immediate burst of movement.

Take It As It Comes is an enjoyable pop song, with the psychedelic feel of the organ and lyrics nicely handled. The organ soloing is extremely good fun, and the bass again works quite nicely, even taking a solo to allow the organ to come in again with a lot more force. Morrison's vocals are again superb.

The album's final piece is probably the bands best-known work, The End. It is a fully psychedelic piece of work, and needs to be appreciated as one. The twists on guitar throughout are absolutely fantastic, and I can't think of another way you could have done the percussion than Densmore's combination of random noises and brief beats, not relying on one sort of drum or a sustained beat for too long at a time. The jungle of organ-work provides a psychedelic and constant, maddening force to the song. Morrison's vocals and lyrical style ('Lost in a Roman/Wilderness of pain/And all. The. Child-ren/Are insane) were made for this song. His untamed aggression gives us the powerful moments of the song, while his softer voice again feels almost-mantric in its conviction.

Of especial note is the section where Morrison narrates the actions of the killer with relish and glee ('He took a face from the ancient gallery!'), and the rest of the band fully support his vocal. The madness, the tragedy, the beauty and the anger of the piece are handled with a demonstrative force, conviction and power throughout, as well as bits of dissonance that are entirely right and a very nice understated conclusion. A masterpiece of progressive rock, if ever there was one. Those who call it boring just don't have the attention span.

I do really love this album as a whole, and any lover of good psych rock (or even people who don't usually care for the genre) should try this out, for historical interest as well as quality. The other albums of The Doors are certainly not without worth, but never again do they reach the sheer force of The End or Break On Through. Very enjoyable, but with a couple of tracks that bring the album down.

Rating: Four Stars

Favourite Track: Break On Through (To The Other Side) [or The End. Really no preference between the two]

TGM: Orb | 4/5 |

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