the Doors

Psychedelic apocalyptic rock band that intruded on the summer of love with a momentary burst of realism, then collapsed into their own angst and lack of forward direction.
flag of the United States The Doors - The Doors (1967)
The Doors - Waiting For the Sun (1968)
The Doors
Production: Roomy organic although somewhat polished.

Review: The Doors upheld their integrity in an age of flower child music by linking their spacious, eloquent sound with a moral ambiguity that disabled them from ever fully being assimilated by the positivist impetus of the time. Although built on a solid foundation of British pop, the first album from this foundational LA act features an entirely different approach to rhythm and harmony that highlights the integral correspondence between lyrical concept and melody of vocalist Jim Morrison. (True, there are notorious exceptions in the album's unabashedly pop and in retrospect, irritating, tracks.)


1. Break on Through
2. Soul Kitchen
3. The Crystal Ship
4. Twentienth Century Fox
5. Alabama Song
6. Light My Fire
7. Back Door Man
8. I Looked At You
9. End Of The Night
10. Take It As It Comes
11. The End
Length: 44:28

the Doors the Doors - progressive apocalyptic rock 1967 Elektra/Asylum
Copyright © 1967 Elektra/Asylum

Keyboard playing dominates the songs in a style undoubtedly influenced by the use of a second unit to produce a bass track, with undulating lead patterns defining the space accented more than timekept by jazz-influenced drums which, re-applying a technique learned from the needs of that genre absent in the new format, fill space with suspense instead of clearly defined patterns. The drums hang in time and let the keyboards set pace and tone while vocals narrate, with guitar playing providing the harmonic variation one would normally expect from keyboards and commenting internally on vocals and drums in a style that might be called "petit leitmotif" for its Wagnerian tendencies to foreshadow and allude throughout the course of the more intricate songs.

Morrison's vocals give credit to his Irish heritage by capturing much of what makes the music of that ill-starred isle so enduring, namely the tendency to sing in manly, full vocals without hiding the unabashedly sensitive melody inside the roguish roadhouse style. Lyrics in iambic pentameter use a range of language never before (or since) seen in rock music, complementing in imagery the lead figures and rhythms used, while giving the songs a focus without becoming a repetitive attention whore of excessively contrived personality.

Unique for their apocalyptic vision which translates into amoral music, the Doors were unfit for an age of political and social protest music, and it is what kept them clean while the rest descended into the filth of paradoxical goals. Morality does not make excellent poetry, and the Doors in realizing this, created the sublime while others digested in the bile of a generational trend. The tendency to romanticize experience instead of whining in moral protest, much like the tendency to repurpose rock as apocalyptic backstreet opera, grants this band a place not only in a past time of vast change but in the vanguard of a similar attitude today.

Waiting For the Sun
Every band, should they be unwise enough to push their longevity past the point where the experience is more rewarding than its outcome (fame, money, sex, intoxication), will reach a state where the elaborate tapestry of their concept and image begins to wear thin, revealing the ungainly, nerdy, functional-utilitarian tentpoles beneath. For the groundbreaking 1960s apocalyptic Nietzsche-rockers, this was that Waterloo.

1. Hello, I Love You
2. Love Street
3. Not To Touch The Earth
4. Summer's Almost Gone
5. Wintertime Love
6. The Unknown Soldier
7. Spanish Caravan
8. My Wild Love
9. We Could Be So Good Together
10. Yes, The River Knows
11. Five To One
Length: 33:14

the Doors - Waiting For the Sun 1968
Copyright © 1968 Elektra/Asylum

It is not a blatant defeat; some of their finest melodic lines are on here and it listens well but without the captivating magnetism of earlier Doors works. There's a lack of density, of subtlety, and most of all of belief; this is a band trying to reinvent itself from outside, looking back over a success and trying to recreate it without recalling anymore what drove it. "Hello, I love you" could be a recreation of "Light my fire," and "Love Street" a "Soul Kitchen II." The trademark poetry of nihilistic images (a careless end of all time) meeting hopeful, youthful Romantic poetry is here, but too often it is soured like concession stand milk: perhaps coming off of an acid trip in a police department, with all of its armaggedonish power and the depleting siren of fluorescent lights, would feel like this.

But where there are moments of pure Morrisonian vocal glory, they are stretched out by work that sounds like a supporting band: zoot suit basslines bouncing up against goofy keyboards jarringly dissonant and sickly harmonious at the same time, guitar licks that years later would find homes on Guns 'n Roses albums. Its devices are more obvious and have the feeling of one or two sessions, while earlier albums were contemplated by moody souls who whether in themselves or publically fought out the details. It is perhaps revelatory of any kind of accurate philosophy in rock music, in that once one proclaims the end and the audience still wants the show to go on, there is nothing left to do but keep cranking out some kind of product however you can, even if it deflates the magic and reveals the incipient shallowness hiding there all along.

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