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The Doors - The Doors CD (album) cover


The Doors



4.33 | 709 ratings

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The Whistler
Prog Reviewer
4 stars So this is the Doors. And, coincidentally, this is The Doors. This record is often hailed as the Doors' best work, and one of the greatest debut albums of all time. And those assumptions are both LIES! FILTHY LIES!!! Ahem. Excuse me.

Er, by which I mean, I have heard more impressive debut albums before, and I have heard more impressive Doors albums before. Maybe this is some kind of a "you had to be there" thing.

Anyway, what seems to matter is that the Doors already had their unique brand of Gothic carnival pop laced with heavy blues and acid jazz. However, it's lacking a certain mature stylistic atmosphere that wouldn't come along until the next album (I could easily sell The Doors off as psychedelic, albeit inventive and creepy psyche for sure). Which doesn't mean you should avoid it by any means...

The opening number, "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" crashes in with a monstrously thick riff, and still stands as my favorite song on the album (not necessarily an easy choice mind you). But it's just so cool. Great lyrics, fantastic musicianship. Too bad the rest of the album cannot quite live up.

Of course, the rest of this crap is pretty much great anyways; "Soul Kitchen" features a cool little organ riff and fun lyrics, and dig the way that the guitar and organ almost compete for the spot of soloist. "The Crystal Ship" is, almost doubtlessly, the most beautiful song the band ever produced. Jimbo sings with his best haunting balladeering style, and the piano solo is gorgeous.

But wait, "Twentieth Century Fox?" That's just a pop song! It's not even that creepy. But still, there's something stupidly catchy about the tune, and refuse to condemn it. Now, "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)" sounds like it was created for Jim ("Show me the way to the next whiskey bar?" Are you sure this is a cover?). I love how the bass sounds just like a tuba. The stuttering harpsichord is great, but that organ? There's something fantastically ominous about it...

Then there's "Light My Fire," the track that everyone and his grandma raves about. Well, it's good, of course. The opening riff has got to be one of the greatest keyboard related things EVER. But I don't feel that Ray and Robbie were quite up to endless soloing just yet, but it's still worth it to hear that clever riff slice through the mounting tension as the band jams.

Aha! It's "Back Door Man" that contains the best soloing on the album! It's another cover, and the blend of (brilliantly played) bloozy guitar, wheezy vocals and carnival organ is pretty much flawless; in fact, I almost feel like calling this one the best song on the album. Once again, cover though it may be, the Doors make it their own. This is prototype of all Doors blues to come.

"I Looked at You" is simply a ridiculous effort in injecting apocalyptic imagery into a pop song. However, there is very little to complain about with dark ballad "End of the Night." Yes it's another ballad, but it's a really messed up one. I can't tell you who's creepier, Jimbo or Robbie. "Take it as it Comes," now that's a strange one. It sounds like a solid piece of Iron Butterfly pop matched with ALMOST decent lyrics. But, c'mon man, this is the Doors! It's a stupid song by anyone's setlist.

And finally, "The End" actually pretty much sums up what is wrong with the album. The lyrical imagery is amazing ("Ride the king's highway," "weird scenes inside a goldmine;" this has got to be the greatest truly American epic from that point of view), but that's all there is to it. It's Jim's show. The music can't live up to the lyrics; it's just the same Easternish lines over and over again, except for that one part towards the end where it starts to speed up. But it never gets any more interesting.

And that's really the problem with the album. Jim is here; all his snakes and death and darkness is in place, but the DOORS aren't. Not just yet. And I like Jim a lot, but I like the Doors even more. And, from a technical point of view, the rest of the band just isn't ready to back him up.

A lot of people complain that the Doors shot their wad right here and now, and you can see traces of the next album here and there (in fact, based on what I've heard, "When the Music's Over" can be found in the intro to "Soul Kitchen," the vocals of "End of the Night" and the soloing of "Light My Fire"), but even so, it was still unpolished. So that isn't a sign of a band that was repeating itself, because Strange Days sounds NOTHING LIKE The Doors. It's a sign of a band that was taking what it had and refining it under a better, more musically and atmospherically mature skin.

In fact, do you know why "Break on Through" is such a successful hard rock song? The same reason why "The Crystal Ship" is so beautiful, and, on the other hand, "Twentieth Century Fox" is such a weird pop song; because the Doors are still a conventional band...the Doors are still a conventional band...YOU CANNOT PETETION THE DOORS WITH BEING A CONVENTIONAL BAND!!!

Simply put, The Doors is a great album, but it's still just a normal album that a number of other bands with a lot of talent could pull off (except "The End," of course, but that's just Jim). Darker than usual, scarier too; but more importantly, it shows the signs of the bigger and better things to come. And that, and the fact that the boys were able to create their masterpiece just a few months later, is the real thing about this album that should amaze you.

(So what's that baby? You STILL think that The Doors is better than that strange ole Strange Days? Well, the remaster further proves my point with its bonus tracks. Just compare the album version of "Moonlight Drive" with the two versions here. The final is, of course, an unclassifiable Doors masterpiece of build. These two? Meh. They're just psycho-pop songs. The first one especially; the second one at least has the Doors sound more or less in place, but the Doors soul is still missing. The guitar work is cool, but the vocals are schlocky. See why the Doors can't be a normal band? Oh well. "Indian Summer" is, to my defiled ears, some'hat similar to the album version, but I consider it to be atmospheric fluff anyways (besides, its presence here reminds me of how much it sounds like "The End"). I guess the best track is the second "Moonlight," but these bonuses are even less interesting to me than those on Strange Days. No change in the overall rating.)

The Whistler | 4/5 |


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