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The Doors - Strange Days CD (album) cover


The Doors



4.25 | 468 ratings

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4 stars The Doors certainly separate one room of opinion from another. For some, it's banal, pretentious, clumsy. For others, it's true art, darkness, poetry. I'm with the second room on that, though not unqualified adoration. The problem for even fans of the music like myself is that the band are not the greatest musicians you ever heard. Only perhaps Ray Manzarek is the real deal, playing bass and keyboard, holding the whole thing together brilliantly. Robbie Kreiger is a true original, but highly eccentric guitar player. He veers from moments of inspiration to amateur fluffs. John Densmore wouldn't be a drummer's drummer either, but his outbursts of drama are perfect for the Doors and Morrison's lyrics. Morrison's lyrics are wonderful and he has a charismatic vocal sound, an unwavering intuitive sense of what a vocal should do, but basically is not a natural musical singer. And yet, even with all these imperfections on display, it works brilliantly. And that's the point. A band isn't a collection of virtuoso musicians, it's a chemistry that mostly happens by accident.

The Doors are not great writers either. Morrison is a brilliant lyricist (not a brilliant poet by the way), but the songs often fall down in terms of musical composition. When it works, it works tremendously well, sometimes aided by it's limitations, in the sense that the lyrics stand out more when the music is so blues-based and basic, almost crude, it creates a balance that wouldn't necessarily exist if a true songwriter existed in the band.

The first album has been lavishly praised, and I also like it, though straight away I noted the quite amateur performances from all concerned apart from Ray. What made the album was that Sunset strip atmosphere pervading every pore of the vinyl. It was a kind of magic.

I've always preferred Strange Days to the first album, yet I have to concede that the magic atmosphere on the first album is not present here. That first album seemed to evoke visions of the setting sun in LA. What takes its place here is a darker vision, a feeling of brooding landscape where night rules over day.

Strange Days for me is almost over the top, the tune is rather corny and contrived, but the haunting lyric wins me over in the end, 'Strange eyes fill strange rooms'. Only the Doors could do this in this way.

You're lost little Girl would be rather harmless pop were it not for that great haunted voice.

Love me two times is fair enough, but rock for rock's sake, a bit on the superficial side, but a necessary track for the sake of balance. Just about, I'd say.

Unhappy Girl has been railed against in this forum, but for me, it fits perfectly into that dark world of the Doors, the style of the singer and his particular obsessions give this an edge.

Horse Latitudes almost sums up the Doors problem referred to earlier. Disturbing musical images and dramatic voice pull together a siren call that it's best not to listen too closely to, or you might notice the rather silly words.

Moonlight Drive is the commercial side of the band, atmospheric, radio-friendly, but poetic words that provoke thought-images in the listener's mind.

People are Strange has a brilliant opening line 'People are strange when you're a stranger, faces look ugly when you're alone'. The song is worth it for this line alone, just as well when the tune it uses to convey it is rather corny and obvious, totally lacking in inspirational quality. That said, Robbie has one of his inspirational forays on guitar, perfectly in tune with the lyric, and that helps counter the negatives.

My eyes have seen you is a rather standard Doors offering, though the lyrics are again interesting and original. A pity that the music can't keep up on this occasion.

I can't see your face in my mind carries that other-worldly sound, though the song is no great shakes.

When the music's over is a tour-de-force, and perhaps the ultimate Doors statement. Not really a song at all, just pure drama, it nevertheless gets my vote as the single most important piece of rock music ever. If someone who has never heard it before heard it suddenly on the radio today, they would go "What the fxxx is that?". It's that unique, and it's significant that you don't hear it on the radio. Yet it was written in 1965. For this one piece alone, this album and the Doors should be forever held in high esteem.

JeanFrame | 4/5 |


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