Review Summary: While it may not match their debut, Strange Days was an excellent follow-up, and features The Doors at their most pyschedelic.The Doors’ music is strange. It is music for the different, the uninvited. It carries the listener into the shadowy realm of dreams. Part of their strangeness comes from the lack of a bass player. This leaves drummer John Densmore to keep the beat. His jazz sensibility keeps it tight, and unpredictable. Robby Krieger’s flamenco influence brings another layer of mystery. He never uses a pick, playing rhythm and lead with his fingernails. What the sound needs to work is brought in by Ray Manzarek. He discovers and electric piano bass and plays the bass line with his left hand, using his right for chords. The organ carries a hint of the carnival: both childlike and darkly disturbing. It’s no accident that the band’s second album features circus performers on its cover.
But if the band has a surreal fairground air, it is Morrison who is the frenzied trapeze artist. To Ray, he’s like an ancient shaman, leading his followers into world they never dare enter alone. Morrison is both innocent and profane. He’s a rock ‘n’ roll poet. Dangerous, and highly intelligent. No one has had this exact combination before. No matter how high he flies, his band mates are always there to catch him, and guide him back to work.
While The Doors
was a sometimes dreamy, but ultimately focused album, the band’s second effort sees them descend further into a surreal atmosphere, resulting in their most psychedelic work. The opening title track, with its warped vocals and sudden bursts of energy, is a perfect tone-setter for coming songs: You’re Lost Little Girl
, slow and dreary, but captivating; Unhappy Girl
with its eerie keyboard sound; I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind
, and Morrison’s short poem narration Horse Latitudes
, a weak track when you set it apart, but fitting with the atmosphere of the record. The greatest psychedelic achievement is however the nearly eleven minutes long When The Music’s Over
, continuing a tradition of lengthy closers on the group’s albums that started with The End
however also contains a few highlights that are more akin to the focused rock songs on their debut, which are some of The Doors’ best known songs. Nearly everyone has heard the famous lines of People are Strange
, dealing with social alienation: ‘People are strange/when you’re a stranger/faces look ugly/when you’re alone’
. The jumpy, energetic Love Me Two Times
is another well-known Doors classic. The jazzy Moonlight Drive
is special: it was actually that song that Morrison first sang for Manzarek on the L.A. beach, the song that impressed him so much he went on to start a band with Jim.
They’ve come a long way since then, and Strange Days
may not match the strength of their debut, but it another excellent entry into a legacy matched by few. Delving deeper into a trippy, psychedelic atmosphere, The Doors’ second album sets itself well apart from their others, and is, naturally, a must-have for the fan.
Love Me Two Times
People Are Strange
When The Music’s Over