I still remember the first time I ever heard The Doors. It was around 1983 when I was about 8-9 years old. I was sitting in the car waiting for my mom and listening to the radio when they played “Light My Fire”. Even at that age I was blown away. Arguably their most popular song and one of the best singles of the 1960s, the Robby Krieger composition is memorable for the first drum kick before the organ line leads into the shamanistic lyrics of Jim Morrison. After the song ended, the DJ then said some nonsense about how some people thought Jim Morrison was still alive. I thought that it sounded ridiculous at the time but I still remember it to this day.
Many years later, I picked up The Doors disc about 20 years ago for £2.99 at HMV on Oxford St in London. It seemed like the perfect album to have for the one room flat I shared with my Australian roommate. It went on to soundtrack many walks through London parks, returning late from the pub and one particularly debauched night at home.
The first single released from the 1967’s s/t album was first track “Break on Through” that flopped on original release but later became classic rock FM staple. Like on “Light My Fire”, the first sound here is also John Densmore drum which has a bossa nova swing along with Krieger’s dirty guitar line. The atmospheric “The Crystal Ship” sees Morrison ask for “another kiss before slipping into unconsciousness”. One of the most famous tracks on the album is a cover of “Alabama Song”, a Bertolt Brecht poem originally set to music by Kurt Weill in the 20s. It’s a surreal leftfield choice with Ray Manzarek’s swirling organ/keyboards that sound like a hazy day at the circus or one that would appear in a dream.
Side two on the album opens with the obligatory blues cover of “Back Door Man” that seemed to be mandatory in the 60s. This is followed by an upbeat two minute rocker in “I Looked At You” that is topped two songs later by “Take It As It Comes”. With simple lyrics about enjoying life, it is a great band and fine vocal performance. The final 11 minutes is devoted to “The End”. The menacing and dark epic was honed over months of performing in clubs and adds in lyrics about The Oedipus complex about a child loving the opposite sex parent and hating the same sex one. To have a track like this appear at the end of a pop record in 1967 must have lead many a hippie down a dark path while tripping on psychedelics. It’s on tracks like this that the Morrison legend grew.
The Doors as a band were revered for many years by high school and college students as they rediscovered this band through the 80s and 90s. But since I purchased the disc in 2000, this attitude has drastically changed as it’s not uncommon for the band to be easily dismissed. With this shift in opinion, it seems that the (perhaps) overrated band is now severely underrated. The Doors album captures both the sunny and darker side of Los Angeles in the 1960s long before The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction. This is one of the great albums of that decade and should be rediscovered by each new generation of music fan.