Graham Reid | | 2 min read
Many consider 1967 rock's greatest year: albums became more important than singles (Sgt Pepper's leading the way) and there were groundbreaking debuts by Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Velvet Underground . . .
And The Doors, who brought Jim Morrison's baritone poetics into rock with a great band.
Today sees the 50th anniversary reissue of that debut album as a three CD set and again on vinyl.
We've been down this path for Elsewhere before with the Doors (and there are other articles on them starting here, inculding a recent archival interview with the band's drummer John Densmore here).
But for newcomers let's re-open The Doors and suggest an easy way in to their admittedly small catalogue of studio recordings. . .
The Doors (1967)
In retrospect -- as with Hendrix's debut -- this mapped territory previously unexplored in rock. In the Doors' case it was through the challenge and optimism of Break On Through; a celebration of life and death; two exceptional covers, Weill and Brecht’s Alabama Song aka Whisky Bar and Willie Dixon’s sexualised Back Door Man.
The final song is The End, a nightmare vision used by Francis Ford Coppola in Apocalypse Now which only added to its sinister allure.
Strange Days (1967)
Released just nine months after their debut this was almost its equal -- although it followed much the same pattern -- and contained the hit Love Me Two Times.
In the era of album stars, the Doors always cracked radio hits and most were written by guitarist Robby Krieger.
There's also the bad trip paranoia of People Are Strange and the 11 minute nihilism of When The Music‘s Over.
These two albums stand up even now, 40 years on.
Morrison Hotel (1970)
After seriously losing their way over a couple of album they returned with this, more rock'n'roll and infused with raw blues.
It sprung no hit single but it's the Doors album that real fans find one of their most rewarding, even if it can be a dark ride.
L.A. Woman (1971)
And three months later Morrison was dead in a bathtub in Paris. More than just the end of his career (it wasn't, the end of the Doors who kept recording without him, sometimes using unreleased Morrison vocals) this was a major return to form in the poetic blues rock where they began.
It gave them hits (Krieger's Love Her Madly, Riders on the Storm) and great tracks like spoken-word Texas Radio and the Big Beat.
They began and ended on highs.
For more on LA Woman at Elsewhere go here.
Also: Might be cheating but the expansive Weird Scenes Inside the Goldmine is an excellent collection of 22 studio songs including hits and great album tracks.
For more on Weird Scenes at Elsewhere go here.
And the double CD In Concert recorded at different venues but programmed like a show best gives you the flavour and breadth of them live.