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The Doors - Strange Days CD (album) cover


The Doors



4.26 | 503 ratings

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5 stars Has there been a more knockout opening to an album than the title track of Strange Days? There may well be, but I might be able to count them all, at least the ones I know of, on my fingers. I may be biased here on account of how much I love this track. But I find it utterly hypnotic in ways I find hard to put into words. It changed my views about Doors for good and 'converted' me.

My previous experiences of Doors were restricted to Morrison Hotel and some other tracks from across their discography. I did not find these particularly exciting and could not relate to (what I thought of as) all the hype around the band. But Strange Days revealed to me a band that could hold its own and then some with the very best of the 60s.

Sinister and tender, hard hitting and beguiling, twisted and infectious, these are some contrasting adjectives that I could use to describe this album without much exaggeration. As a demonstration of the band's range and width, the first two tracks of the album would suffice by themselves.

The eponymous opener, astonishingly, sounds like Krautrock a bit before Krautrock. And it achieves this without losing accessibility. The main hook is too exotic to sound generic even after all these years and yet, it is so catchy that it's almost danceable. It is when Morrison's ominous voice comes in that parallels to Krautrock are really evident. The riffs that follow the last line of each verse (or a chorus, if you would rather call it one) must have also been very influential for Krautrock and, once again, they possess hypnotic power.

Preceded by this menacing slab of psychedelia as it is, You're Lost Little Girl feels even more beguiling for it. This talented bunch of musicians almost seem to transform for this song and Krieger in particular plays a beautiful solo. A band that can write and perform either of these tracks would already have to be a talented one, but how do you beat a band that can come up with both, back to back and make the transition seamlessly? Once again, the immediate parallel is with the Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd. But...I would argue Doors are even more effective at this stage. Their madness is much more channeled and focused. For all their success with Barrett, Pink Floyd were a bit all over the place at that stage while Doors on Strange Days is a band at the top of their game. And it shows.

Because there's still more, lots more to this album. My other absolute favourite from this album is the aptly titled closer, When The Music's Over. I would have more time for psychedelic jams if they were all as effective as this fabulous track. Doors create a powerful context that makes the jam engaging in the first place. It is improv, but not improv that simply sets a mood but improv that will compel you to listen to with full attention, every note of it. Improv that will transport you to a place that you will find thrilling and frightening at the same time. This music is simply not meant to be analysed but to be experienced to the hilt. I am not a huge fan of Morrison's singing but I do love his performance on this track and would have to consider it crucial to the power of the music.

There are some goodies amongst the rest of the tracks too. They are relatively simple and basic in terms of structure, but structure is not where it's at as far as this album goes. This is a bunch of compositions that cannot be easily emulated for sheer staying power. I particularly like Unhappy Girl, My Eyes Have Seen You and I Can't See Your Face in My Mind. I don't often listen to the rest but it's not like there's anything, other than Horse Latitudes, to avoid here.

To conclude, certainly an album that can rival the likes of Revolver, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Let It Bleed, Bringing it all Back Home as one of the shining lights of the 60s. Morrison may not quite be a match for the Zimmerman as a wordsmith and the musicians may not boast the eclecticism of the Beatles but none of these albums I mentioned are so purely mesmerising and, well, scary as Strange Days. Where this album shines is not so much in terms of its influence or its profundity but simply its ability to tap the power of aural sensation to make an indelible impression on the mind. This, I would argue, is much closer to the heart of music. In that sense, it rocks like few rock albums ever made.

rogerthat | 5/5 |


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