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The Doors - Strange Days CD (album) cover

STRANGE DAYS

The Doors

 

Proto-Prog

4.20 | 344 ratings

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Keetian
4 stars Sometime in 1969 after the song "Touch Me" came out, I bought "Strange Days" and "The Soft Parade" at the same time. They became the 3rd and 4th Doors records in my collection. By then the Doors were my favorite band. I decided to play both releases back to back. I remember liking "Strange Days" much better. Inside the "SD" LP was a sleeve which the record rested in to protect it from scratches. I saw a pic of the group on that sleeve and there was Morrison in the center looking at his hand. I thought that would have been a better photo to use for the album cover than the circus performers. I thought it was a great shot. I have a sneaking suspicion that Ray Manzarek was behind that idea, judging from the way he plays the organ on some songs. He must love the carnival scene a great deal. The dark adventure begins with a poem by Morrison, known as "Strange Days." It is superb! There is a great sense of foreboding as you listen to it. Everything is working here. The organ tone sucks you right in like a whirlpool. The music is dramatic and is filled with suspense. Morrison uses vocal effects to emphasize the doomlike quality of the lines. To me "Strange Days" is the turbulent upheaval of society as we knew it. Many strange things were bombarding the U.S. during the sixties. It is highly possible the lyrics were a direct result of a dream Morrison had. He was quoted as saying he got some of his best stuff from real good dreams. I am tempted to say this song may have even made its writer more than a little apprehensive. The first verse lets the listener know something life changing is happening and there is nothing that can be done to stop it. The last lines apply to the Doors as he states "We shall go on playing or find a new town," depending on the audience's reaction to the singer's tidings. The second verse shifts to deceptive intrigue as the songster sees our right to privacy fall by the wayside. Jim answers why it is happening. In the last line of that verse he says, "Hear me talk of sin and you know this is it." The last verse reveals us as lonely, confused, abused, and trapped in a strange night of stone. Many felt this was a reference to the drug culture. I think there was something much more disturbing than just drug abuse. It is what becomes of a society when too much change occurs at one time. These are issues that deserve much thought. The lyric is definitely prog, but the music never gets past the AB format. AB as in verse and chorus. The chorus in this case being the music between verses. There is more of an experimental ideology going on here, and throughout the album. Next comes the beautifully crafted "You're Lost Little Girl." The music is intricate and precise. Again the band uses the AB format to great effect. The difference on this one is that Robbie Kreiger plays a solo. The chords are changed and the rhythm is snappy. I don't really call that prog, but it is experimental to be sure. The third tune is one I have never really warmed up to. I know it did pretty good on the charts, but I always believed the Doors were capable of better music and lyrics. "Love Me Two Times" is well played, but it isn't a good "Doors" song. I wished they never put it on the record. It sounds like vaudville meets pop rock. YUK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "Unhappy Girl" is another filler song. As far as I'm concerned, Manzarek sounds as if he is experimenting with the wrong textures. It is just too off beat, even for me.. I have never been able to get into it. I do appreciate the writing though. The Doors did Morrison's lyrics the justice they deserved most of the time, but not in this case. "Horse Lattitudes" on the other hand brought Jim's words an almost MTV-like quality. You can hear, feel, and see what is happening. At first I thought the song was about heroin, but it is really about the experience of horses being thrown overboard on the high seas during a violent storm. An excellent recording!!! "Moonlight Drive" is a good rocker with a great poetic content. The words are rich in the visual, as well as thought provoking. "People are Strange" is the right way to contruct a song, unlike "Love Me Two Times." It is well done and pleasing to the ear. Most ,on this album, it emphasizes the Doors persona. Next is one of my faves. It is akin to "Strange Days," as far as content goes. Perhaps the result of another good dream? This one deals with prostitution and again the loss of privacy. The song combines hard rock with moody, melodic rock. Morrison at his best! The Doors at their best! "I can't see you're Face in my Mind" is dreamy and contemplative. The suspended chords just give it the right feel. This is on the verge of prog, while never going too far away from the theme. It is a good placement in answer to the previous tune. "When the music's Over" is the last song and arguably the best offering the band ever recorded. I used to get stoked just listening to the first notes spew out. Manzarek found the best tones and exploited them to futher enhance and accentuate Jimbo's utterances. Robbie's Guitar is killer! It augments and justifies the continuation of the song. The words renew the expectation of something greater, as Morrison seems to ramble on with methodic purpose. It is dark, but then the 60's were a dark time. So it follows that Morrison would be so absorbed. The last verse is a recapitulation of the first, which reiterates returning to darkness after the enlightenment of Jim's words, through the music, has ceased. When it's over, you shut off the lights and go to wherever. It's up to you how much you take with you. There are only two songs that keep this album down, that is why I am giving it four stars instead of five.
Keetian | 4/5 |

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