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Old 10-19-2011, 07:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Review: The Doors, The Doors- 1967


The Doors The Doors- 1967
RMR Album Rating- 10


Is the Doors debut album (“The Doors) the best album of 1967?

Before I answer that, let’s put the question in perspective and examine the musical class of 1967, which was really a seminal year for rock. If modern rock was really born in the early 60’s with the British Invasion and Dylan, than it really came of age in 1967 with the psychedelic movement in full swing. Here’s just a few of the amazing albums released that year (in chronological order)…
The Doors- “The Doors” (1st album released in 1967, on January 4th)
The Rolling Stones- “Between the Buttons”
Jefferson Airplane- “Surrealistic Pillow”
The Grateful Dead- “The Grateful Dead”
The Jimi Hendrix Experience- “Are You Experienced”
The Beatles- “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
Pink Floyd- “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”
The Kinks- “Something Else by the Kinks”
The Doors- “Strange Days”
Cream- “Disraeli Gears”
The Moody Blues- “Days of Future Past”
The Beatles- “Magical Mystery Tour”
Jefferson Airplane- “After Bathing at Baxter’s”
The Jimi Hendrix Experience- “Axis: Bold as Love”
The Rolling Stones- “Their Satanic Majesties Request”
Bob Dylan- “John Wesley Harding”
These are all amazing albums, but what should really stick out is that the Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in 1967, and most music critics and common music fans probably cite it as the greatest album of all time more than any other album released at any other time in history. What should also be noted is that the Doors also released their sophomore album (“Strange Days”) in 1967, and the Beatles also released a second album in 1967: “Magical Mystery Tour.” So, you have two albums from the Doors and two albums from the Beatles that are both outstanding. Thus, it really comes down to the Beatles vs. the Doors to answer my original question and crown the winner of the greatest album release of 1967.

I will first say that “Sgt. Pepper’s” is an incredible, groundbreaking album, and it is easily a 10-star release. It is a phenomenal blend of both psychedelic and pop songs, which make it accessible, deep, and artful all at the same time, but it almost seems like the Beatles were trying to hard balance their psychedelic tendencies and pop roots. For example, just look at what the Beatles were wearing in 1967. They have on neon band uniforms, and then it gets even worse on the “Magical Mystery Tour” album cover where they are all dressed up like stuffed animals. Now, I know that these album covers are ingrained in everyone’s minds, and we just kind of accept their image during this period as normal or even inventive, but to me, it just seems a little puerile.

Compare this to what the Doors were doing in 1967. First off, they are wearing normal clothes… no neon and no stuffed animal suits, so their image is much more mature, much darker, and much less silly. Musically, The Doors debut album has the same blend of pop and psychedelic songs as “Sgt. Pepper’s,” but all the songs are much darker, much more serious, and much more artsy, and “The Doors” album was released 6-months before “Sgt. Pepper’s.” In terms of pop songs on both albums, they are pretty equal, with the Beatles maybe having the slight upper hand, but in terms of serious songs, which the Beatles were dying to achieve, the Doors win hands down. Just look at the song “The End” as an example, which closes “The Doors” album. It is an 11+ minute Oedipal-psychedelic song that ends with a son killing his whole family then screaming that he wants to “f**k” his mother (the record company would not let Morrison say “f**k” on the original release, but those are the original lyrics). The Beatles would never write or perform something like “The End” (although, I think Lennon would have been game for it). All these points carry over on both “The Beatles” and “The Doors” second releases of 1967 as well. The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” is pieced together with fewer dark psychedelic songs and more pop songs, where as The Doors would get even more serious and even darker on their second 1967 album— “Strange Days,” but the album is still accessible with plenty of serious, mature pop music mixed in. Therefore, I think “Strange Days” is a much better record than “Magical Mystery Tour”… giving the Doors a slight edge overall in in 1967.

So, let’s return to my opening question. Is the Doors debut album (“The Doors”) the best release of 1967?

Well, comparing it directly to the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s,” I have to say that those two albums are pretty equal, and they are both completely flawless albums.

However (and this is a big however), if you compare The Doors body of work in 1967, which would include “Strange Days,” and The Beatles body of work in 1967, which would include “Magical Mystery Tour,” the Doors win hands down as the best band of 1967.

All right, now that the results are tallied, let’s finally talk about the album itself. Whenever people talk about the Doors, they talk about Jim Morrison, and rightfully so, as he was one of the primary song writers, the vocalist, the resident poet, and maybe most importantly, he was the band’s personality and master of controversy, so I don’t want to underestimate his contribution to this album, but I think the real hero of the album is Ray Manzarek, who’s piano and organ playing really define the sound of the album. Unlike most players who just add key fills where needed, Manzarek’s unique playing really dominates many of the songs. His playing has kind of a carnival music sound to it (“Light My Fire” might be the best example of this), and this awesome sound just completely draws me in. I will also mention that he wraps this sound very tightly around Robby Krieger’s guitar, who’s playing is almost as impressive as Manzarek’s and is also criminally underrated.

You can really divide the songs into two categories. Most of the songs are psychedelic pop numbers like “Soul Kitchen,” “Back Door Man,” and “Break on Through,” which is by far the best of pop song on the album, and it was by far heavier than any pop song released before it. Then you have the darker psychedelic numbers like “The Crystal Ship,” “End of the Night,” and “The End.” These songs are much darker and more serious in tone than the songs in the pop group, and they foreshadow the sound of The Doors subsequent record “Strange Days.”

Lastly, you have “Take it as it Comes,” and “Light my Fire,” which are my favorite two tracks from the album, and they don’t completely fit in either group that I just mentioned, but they epitomize The Doors mastery of combining accessible pop melodies in an unconventional format. “Take it as it Comes” is a short 2-minute track that is fast paced, but it still manages to fit in two organ solos at the 30-second mark and 1:15 mark in the song. Lastly, “Light My Fire’s” 7-minute run-time just flies by, and it features an amazing 5-minute organ/ guitar jam that runs from 1:07-5:45 in the song. I can’t say enough about “Light My Fire”. It is one of my favorite songs of all time, and I will never grow tired of hearing Ray Manzarek’s organ work in that middle jam section. All in all, every song is fantastic, and the juxtaposition of upbeat and serious tones that are woven throughout the album is just fantastic.

I covered a lot of material in this review, so let’s wrap this thing up. The Doors debut is easily a 10-star album, and although it might not take the crown as the single best album of 1967, The Doors definitely take the prize as the best band of 1967, and it was their debut year! As my final comments, I will just mention again how phenomenal Ray Manzarek sounds on this album, and his organ/ piano work here is just mind bending.

Post Script: If you like Manzarek’s work on this album, definitely check out Phish’s debut album “Junta.” It basically takes Manzarek’s and Krieger’s jam session in “Light My Fire” and uses it as a blue print for the whole album, and it is a fantastic album as well.
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Old 10-20-2011, 06:10 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RMR View Post

The Doors The Doors- 1967
RMR Album Rating- 10


Is the Doors debut album (“The Doors) the best album of 1967?

Before I answer that, let’s put the question in perspective and examine the musical class of 1967, which was really a seminal year for rock. If modern rock was really born in the early 60’s with the British Invasion and Dylan, than it really came of age in 1967 with the psychedelic movement in full swing. Here’s just a few of the amazing albums released that year (in chronological order)…
The Doors- “The Doors” (1st album released in 1967, on January 4th)
The Rolling Stones- “Between the Buttons”
Jefferson Airplane- “Surrealistic Pillow”
The Grateful Dead- “The Grateful Dead”
The Jimi Hendrix Experience- “Are You Experienced”
The Beatles- “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
Pink Floyd- “Piper at the Gates of Dawn”
The Kinks- “Something Else by the Kinks”
The Doors- “Strange Days”
Cream- “Disraeli Gears”
The Moody Blues- “Days of Future Past”
The Beatles- “Magical Mystery Tour”
Jefferson Airplane- “After Bathing at Baxter’s”
The Jimi Hendrix Experience- “Axis: Bold as Love”
The Rolling Stones- “Their Satanic Majesties Request”
Bob Dylan- “John Wesley Harding”
These are all amazing albums, but what should really stick out is that the Beatles released “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in 1967, and most music critics and common music fans probably cite it as the greatest album of all time more than any other album released at any other time in history. What should also be noted is that the Doors also released their sophomore album (“Strange Days”) in 1967, and the Beatles also released a second album in 1967: “Magical Mystery Tour.” So, you have two albums from the Doors and two albums from the Beatles that are both outstanding. Thus, it really comes down to the Beatles vs. the Doors to answer my original question and crown the winner of the greatest album release of 1967.

I will first say that “Sgt. Pepper’s” is an incredible, groundbreaking album, and it is easily a 10-star release. It is a phenomenal blend of both psychedelic and pop songs, which make it accessible, deep, and artful all at the same time, but it almost seems like the Beatles were trying to hard balance their psychedelic tendencies and pop roots. For example, just look at what the Beatles were wearing in 1967. They have on neon band uniforms, and then it gets even worse on the “Magical Mystery Tour” album cover where they are all dressed up like stuffed animals. Now, I know that these album covers are ingrained in everyone’s minds, and we just kind of accept their image during this period as normal or even inventive, but to me, it just seems a little puerile.

Compare this to what the Doors were doing in 1967. First off, they are wearing normal clothes… no neon and no stuffed animal suits, so their image is much more mature, much darker, and much less silly. Musically, The Doors debut album has the same blend of pop and psychedelic songs as “Sgt. Pepper’s,” but all the songs are much darker, much more serious, and much more artsy, and “The Doors” album was released 6-months before “Sgt. Pepper’s.” In terms of pop songs on both albums, they are pretty equal, with the Beatles maybe having the slight upper hand, but in terms of serious songs, which the Beatles were dying to achieve, the Doors win hands down. Just look at the song “The End” as an example, which closes “The Doors” album. It is an 11+ minute Oedipal-psychedelic song that ends with a son killing his whole family then screaming that he wants to “f**k” his mother (the record company would not let Morrison say “f**k” on the original release, but those are the original lyrics). The Beatles would never write or perform something like “The End” (although, I think Lennon would have been game for it). All these points carry over on both “The Beatles” and “The Doors” second releases of 1967 as well. The Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour” is pieced together with fewer dark psychedelic songs and more pop songs, where as The Doors would get even more serious and even darker on their second 1967 album— “Strange Days,” but the album is still accessible with plenty of serious, mature pop music mixed in. Therefore, I think “Strange Days” is a much better record than “Magical Mystery Tour”… giving the Doors a slight edge overall in in 1967.

So, let’s return to my opening question. Is the Doors debut album (“The Doors”) the best release of 1967?

Well, comparing it directly to the Beatles “Sgt. Pepper’s,” I have to say that those two albums are pretty equal, and they are both completely flawless albums.

However (and this is a big however), if you compare The Doors body of work in 1967, which would include “Strange Days,” and The Beatles body of work in 1967, which would include “Magical Mystery Tour,” the Doors win hands down as the best band of 1967.

All right, now that the results are tallied, let’s finally talk about the album itself. Whenever people talk about the Doors, they talk about Jim Morrison, and rightfully so, as he was one of the primary song writers, the vocalist, the resident poet, and maybe most importantly, he was the band’s personality and master of controversy, so I don’t want to underestimate his contribution to this album, but I think the real hero of the album is Ray Manzarek, who’s piano and organ playing really define the sound of the album. Unlike most players who just add key fills where needed, Manzarek’s unique playing really dominates many of the songs. His playing has kind of a carnival music sound to it (“Light My Fire” might be the best example of this), and this awesome sound just completely draws me in. I will also mention that he wraps this sound very tightly around Robby Krieger’s guitar, who’s playing is almost as impressive as Manzarek’s and is also criminally underrated.

You can really divide the songs into two categories. Most of the songs are psychedelic pop numbers like “Soul Kitchen,” “Back Door Man,” and “Break on Through,” which is by far the best of pop song on the album, and it was by far heavier than any pop song released before it. Then you have the darker psychedelic numbers like “The Crystal Ship,” “End of the Night,” and “The End.” These songs are much darker and more serious in tone than the songs in the pop group, and they foreshadow the sound of The Doors subsequent record “Strange Days.”

Lastly, you have “Take it as it Comes,” and “Light my Fire,” which are my favorite two tracks from the album, and they don’t completely fit in either group that I just mentioned, but they epitomize The Doors mastery of combining accessible pop melodies in an unconventional format. “Take it as it Comes” is a short 2-minute track that is fast paced, but it still manages to fit in two organ solos at the 30-second mark and 1:15 mark in the song. Lastly, “Light My Fire’s” 7-minute run-time just flies by, and it features an amazing 5-minute organ/ guitar jam that runs from 1:07-5:45 in the song. I can’t say enough about “Light My Fire”. It is one of my favorite songs of all time, and I will never grow tired of hearing Ray Manzarek’s organ work in that middle jam section. All in all, every song is fantastic, and the juxtaposition of upbeat and serious tones that are woven throughout the album is just fantastic.

I covered a lot of material in this review, so let’s wrap this thing up. The Doors debut is easily a 10-star album, and although it might not take the crown as the single best album of 1967, The Doors definitely take the prize as the best band of 1967, and it was their debut year! As my final comments, I will just mention again how phenomenal Ray Manzarek sounds on this album, and his organ/ piano work here is just mind bending.

Post Script: If you like Manzarek’s work on this album, definitely check out Phish’s debut album “Junta.” It basically takes Manzarek’s and Krieger’s jam session in “Light My Fire” and uses it as a blue print for the whole album, and it is a fantastic album as well.
I heartily agree with your thoughts on Manzerak here. His organ and Morrison's voice are the strongest parts of the album and they blend together beautifully.
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Old 10-20-2011, 09:25 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Great review RMR and the Doors debut is without doubt one of the best, if not the best debut album ever recorded. Its just a timeless classic that always sounds great as the band pushed musical boundaries. The comparison with Sgt.Pepper is not a great one though but I can see why you did it, as they are probably the two best albums of 1967 along with the Hendrix debut. The Doors album is one of those debut landmark releases that seems to come around once or twice every decade, whereas Sgt.Peppers is an album where a band has reached its creative height and brilliance and fully evolved their sound.

As for your list on the best albums of 1967 I agree with 75% of them BUT NO Country Joe and the Fish? The two albums put out by them that year are two of the finest psychedelic releases ever, also the Byrds album Younger Than Yesterday needs to be on that list.
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Old 10-20-2011, 03:07 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Unknown Soldier View Post
Great review RMR and the Doors debut is without doubt one of the best, if not the best debut album ever recorded. Its just a timeless classic that always sounds great as the band pushed musical boundaries. The comparison with Sgt.Pepper is not a great one though but I can see why you did it, as they are probably the two best albums of 1967 along with the Hendrix debut. The Doors album is one of those debut landmark releases that seems to come around once or twice every decade, whereas Sgt.Peppers is an album where a band has reached its creative height and brilliance and fully evolved their sound.

As for your list on the best albums of 1967 I agree with 75% of them BUT NO Country Joe and the Fish? The two albums put out by them that year are two of the finest psychedelic releases ever, also the Byrds album Younger Than Yesterday needs to be on that list.
Great post, Younger Than Yesterday album by the Byrds is a +.
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Old 11-07-2011, 02:10 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Nice review, i totally agree that best bend of 1967 was Doors with their both albums but not partly, I also think that in those years the right use of LSD was the priority of creating epic music.
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Old 11-07-2011, 03:58 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I would say that 'Are you Experienced' is still the best on the list, by far. However, with that said, I finally got around to listen to this(I have no idea why it took me so long to start exploring 'The Doors'), and I have to say, I'm quite impressed.

I'd also mention that Frank Zappa's 'Absolutely Free' also came out in 1967, and imo probably one of the most overlooked in his catalog, and of all time.

First four songs, really didn't do much for me. "Break On Through" of course I've heard a million times in my life, and still am kind of 'eh' about the song's repetitiveness.

However, the combination of 'Alabama Song'(amazingly pleasant surprise), and 'Light my Fire'(which I've only heard truncated versions of) really started to get me into this album. 'Backdoor man' just solidified it. From then on, the album is just brilliance until 'The End'.

It's the first time I've heard actually the entire thing in total. I enjoy lengthy songs quite a bit, but it's so meandering, and pointless. I'm sure it was very significant and innovative for it's time, but eh...

Favorite songs:

"End of the Night", "Alabama Song", "Light my Fire".

Personal score: 7.5/10
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Old 11-07-2011, 05:18 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I always think of 1967 along with 1977 as being two of the greatest years in the history of rock, just for the sheer quality of the albums. This is part of a list I`ve been creating for every year and features my best albums for each year in a top 20. In the following order from best to least best for 1967.

Doors-Doors
Beatles-Sgt. Pepper`s Lonely Hearts Club Band
Jimi Hendrix Experience-Are You Experienced?
Love-Forever Changes
Doors-Strange Days
Country Joe and the Fish-Electric Music for the Mind and Body
Byrds-Younger Than Yesterday
Cream-Disreali Gears
Red Krayola-The Parable of Arable Land
Country Joe and the Fish-I Feel Like I`m Fixing to Die
Jefferson Airplane-Surrealistic Pillow
Velvet Underground-The Velvet Underground & Nico
Kinks-Something Else By The Kinks
Pink Floyd-Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Beatles-Magical Mystery Tour
Captain Beefheart-Safe as Milk
Moody Blues-Days of Future Passed .
Tim Buckley-Goodbye and Hello
Love-Da Capo
Moby Grape-Moby Grape

BTW no Absolutely Free, a good album but I actually prefer the two MOI albums either side of it, of which both would easily make a best of year list.
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Old 11-07-2011, 06:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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not really to keen on this album
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Old 11-08-2011, 06:43 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Excellent review RMR, I was thoroughly impressed with your detail! While this is one of my favorite Doors albums, I also love Soft Parade, this may be a shocker since it is seen to be one of their most disliked albums. But I still find Soft Parade to be totally unique to the Doors set of albums.
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Old 12-26-2011, 10:53 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Another great review. I didn't own this album till I was like 20. But I do listen it now more than ever. Love there cover version of the old Willie Dixon pined song Back Door Man
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