Review Summary: Breaking on through to places most rock bands never reach.
Few rock n roll bands can claim to have a debut album as stunning, lasting and unique as The Doors’ self-titled 1967 LP. The sixties was a decade overflowing with musical talent, rife with exciting new sounds crafted by young bands expressing themselves in a landscape teeming with unprecedented creative freedom. The British Invasion was dying down as the decade grew older, and the creative found a new place to express themselves with Psychedelic music, spurred on by the Hippies, with their drugs and free love ideals. Enter The Doors; a Californian rock band with blues roots, a psychedelic kick, and perhaps most significantly, a frontman with the means to become an icon – one which still resonates strongly 40 years after his untimely death.
The icon in question is of course, Jim Morrison – a man whose poetic inclinations, powerful bluesy vocals, cool style and rugged good looks made him an ideal candidate to front a band as talented and ambitious as The Doors. There’s no question about it, The Doors, despite the charm of Morrison, were a band – not just a vehicle for the artistic explorations of their frontman. In other words, each member played a more or less equal role in shaping and defining the unique sound of the band, which goes a long way in explaining just why The Doors
stands as one of the finest rock albums of all time.
Opening to one of the strongest and most memorable 2 and half minute rock songs ever recorded, the scene is set splendidly – Morrison’s poetic lyrics and belting delivery, Robby Krieger’s rollicking guitar, Ray Manzarek’s distinctive keyboards and John Densmore’s paced percussion are laid out in all their glory in less than 3 minutes.
The Doors did more than just rock (‘Twentieth Century Fox’, ‘Take It As It Comes’ and the cover of ‘Back Door Man’ further the promise the opening cut hinted at), expanding their sound with trippy psychedelic moments such as ‘End of the Night’ and the beautifully mellow ‘The Crystal Ship’. Morrison explores his poetic desires further in bizarre and rather eerie numbers, such as ‘Alabama Song’ and the epic ‘The End’ – perhaps slightly too self-indulgent at over 11 minutes long but powerful and effecting nonetheless, with its controversial oedipal themes. The star of the show (or at least, one
of the stars) is ‘Light My Fire’ – the bands most famous song, and for good reason. It’s a psychedelic epic; Manzarek’s demented organ tapping characterising the cut the most, closely followed by Morrison’s smooth vocals at the start and end of the lengthy number.
is just a stellar album - diverse, consistent, challenging, exciting and unique – all of which still apply over 40 years on from its 1967 release. The Doors would never really touch such high ground again, though they came close more than a few times in the run up to Morrison’s shocking death at the age of 27. That only serves to make the album more special; it’s so astounding to know that the LP was the group’s first, certainly indicative of their talent and vision – both of which were rarely put into action as spectacularly as they were here. As if you hadn’t guessed already, The Doors
is nothing less than essential for rock fans of any variation.