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The Doors - The Doors CD (album) cover


The Doors



4.33 | 709 ratings

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4 stars Opening the doors for psychedelic rock

The first striking thing about this album is how Jim Morrison's face dwarfs the photo of his fellow bandmates on the front cover, which is actually a suprisingly accurate metaphor for how the group were percieved in real life. Jim Morrison would go down as one of the most influential characters in rock history, whilst the other members would never achieve such recognition. The artwork also gives an accurate representation of Jim Morrison's huge ego: this is the man who would go on to sing the lyric 'Girl we couldn't get much higher' on national television although he had been advised not to. There are many other accounts of Morrison doing things in his own 'rock n' roll' style. Needless to say, the band might never have become so famous if this man's giant face hadn't appeared on the front cover of their first album.

The first song I ever heard by this group was Break On Through (To The Other Side), where it was on a soundtrack to a video game. With it's incredibly modern sound, I was flabbergasted when I found out that it had been released as early as 1967. When compared to other acts of the '60s, this track is years ahead of it's time. This is a brilliant rock song, with very memorable lyrics. The latest remaster restores the lyrics 'She gets high!', which were censored on the original album.

There are no less than eleven tracks on this album, and unsurprisingly, some are better than others. The three most notable songs on the album are Break On Through (To The Other Side), Light My Fire and The End, which leaves us with 8 tracks, all of which are roughly 3 minutes in length. There are two covers: Alabama Song (Whisky Bar) and Back Door Man. The first is a cover of a song from a 1927 German opera, a very bizarre choice indeed, and certainly one that stirs up the album. The second is a more conventional blues song, and a very good cover for all fans of the 12-bar format. Of the remaining tracks, there are few remarkable tracks, although End Of The Night is sufficiently spooky to be given credit. For examples of the other tracks, Twentieth Century Fox has lyrics based around an incredibly lame pun, and I Looked At You is a wholly uninteresting pop track.

Light My Fire dominates the first side of the album at 7 minutes in length. The song was unusual for it's time, as the instrumental seperating the second and third verses is over four minutes long, and thus dominates the track itself. This song goes neatly into the category of songs that I like to call 'Instrumental Sandwiches', like By-Tor and the Snow Dog and Firth of Fifth. However, while this song was certainly something very new for it's time, it sounds extremely dated 40 years on. As prog veterans, we have a high standard of how good an instrumental should be, and the instrumental here simply fails to deliver. The keyboard solo is bland and uninspiring, and the guitarist shows no sense of virtuosity or power as he plays, and instead just sounds like a selection of notes being plucked. Worst of all is the constant repetition on the bass guitar that becomes boring extremely quickly. The parts of this song that aren't instrumental actually make up a decent pop song, although with somewhat atrocious lyrics. In the verses, Morrison finds some cringeworthy lyrics to rhyme with 'fire' and in the chorus, he rhymes 'fire' with 'fire': a rookie error if there ever was one. For being an important song in rock history, this is definitely worth a listen, but this is definitely not the brilliant song many people make it out to be. The theme of the song is getting high, and I imagine that doing so is probably the only way to fully appreciate this track.

The final track on the song is appropriately titled The End, and with this being a prog rock website, I won't be surprised if the 11 minute length caught your eye. I have to say, this long track is certainly something of a masterpiece. This is a loosely structured track which focuses mainly on Morrison's enigmatic lyrics. The music is quite eerie and repetitive with Indian undertones, although there are subtle changes as the track progresses. The focus is on the lyrics rather than the music, and in this way, the music is arguably less 'prog' than bands like Yes. There are many verses with cryptic lyrics that can be interpreted in many different ways. Probably the best-known secion is where Morrison sings '"Father," "Yes son?" "I want to kill you. Mother, I want to..."' before letting out a scream that many interpret as an urge to have sex with her. As if you hadn't gauged this already, this is quite a dramatic song. People have compared the above section to Greek drama and indeed to Oedipus. The dynamics in the music perfectly augment Morrison's emotive singing, leading to one of the most intense performances in psychedelic rock history.

This is a stirring debut album from one of the most famous bands in rock history, and from this album, it's clear how they managed to pave their way to worldwide recognition and success. True, there are a more than a few duff tracks on the record, but since The End is four times as long as these tracks, this observation is quite out of proportion. With three of their best known songs (Break On Through (To The Other Side), Light My Fire and The End) and some other fun gems, this is the best album to start with when listening to The Doors.

baz91 | 4/5 |


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