Here are The Doors’ albums reviewed in chronological order (by release date).
THE DOORS (1967)
A perfectly formed debut, even more so than Led Zeppelin I. Unlike the Beatles or Stones whose albums show a development from their roots, the Doors early albums show a great dissociation from theirs. The band’s sound is developed fully and only later in their career did they try to get back to their blues roots-a sound which their fans had never really heard from them.
The album’s first single “Break on Through” sets the tone lyrically and musically. The Doors openly refer to getting high in “Break on Through” and “Light My Fire”. They were kicked off Ed Sullivan for refusing to alter their music with Morrison emphasizing HIGHER when they performed “Light My Fire” on the old coot’s show. (Contrast media styled “bad boys” the Rolling Stones who sang “Let’s spend SOME TIME Together” on the Ed Sullivan Show).
Eerie, trippy songs like “The Crystal Ship” and “End of the Night” give the album a surreal atmosphere. The album’s centerpiece is ultimately “The End” – the first successful effort at bringing theater to rock. Forget “rock operas” with silly theme of pinball players or “concept” albums about bands named after military spices, The End composed before either Tommy or Sgt. Pepper is a real dramatic piece with a theme of darkness and dread. Speaking over a whirlwind of sounds Morrison belts out the Oedipal lyrics, ones which he would later sing to his estranged mother when she appeared in the front row of a Doors concert. Surely, Mrs. Morrison would have preferred to have reared the daughter in the Beatles fictional “She’s Leaving Home” (you know the one who meets the man from the motor trade after running away early one morning) to her own deranged son! The Velvets’ critically acclaimed and later recorded “The Gift” is lame in comparison to “the End.”
Did you know?: Light My Fire was written by Doors guitarist Robby Krieger. Ray Manzarek the Doors keyboard player added the carnival introduction. The song was sold for use in a Buick commercial.
An expansion of the band’s work on “The Doors”. “Moonlight Drive”, one of the first Doors songs ever penned, finally makes its debut. “When the Music’s” over the band’s long piece, exceeds musically its somewhat bloated counterpart “the End”. Backwards recorded cymbals and the word “strange” appear on this album on more than one occasion. Pop tastes are catered to with “Love Me Two Times” and nothing remotely resembling the blues is offered. Another real original Doors album.
Third album syndrome. Morrison wanted to include “the Celebration of the Lizard King” as the long piece on the album but the 25 minute recording was not satisfactory so it was scrapped and led the Doors scrambling to find enough material to fill the album (the Celebration of the Lizard King’s lyrics were included in the album cover and “Not to Touch the Earth”, a segment from the piece, was included on the album but it was not until the release of the Doors live album that the piece got a full public hearing).
“Hello I Love You” kept the Doors sweet with the Teenybopper set. “Unknown Soldier” and “Five to One” explored the revolutionary aspect of the Doors but were a little too overt for the hitherto mysterious Doors to have the power of the band’s prior work. Still a Doors album worth listening too.
Overproduction and a reliance on being in the studio deadens the appeal of this album. While there are so fine cuts on it, there are also some clinkers. Brass, fiddles and orchestras are used to mixed effect. “Touch Me” a Krieger composition annoyed Morrison as blatant commercial pandering (but the song did fit his image-with Morrison often singing live “suck me”). Individual song credits were granted as Morrison wanted to dissociate himself from Krieger’s lyrics. The album’s title track and “Shaman’s Blues” rank among the best of the Doors.
A near blues effort and one welcomed after the band’s descent into heavy orchestration. Morrison and Manzarek had long been blues fans, Morrison had mentioned that he would like to record with Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker, not just to records cover versions but to write new music with them. Sadly, this experiment never passed but the Doors produced blues originals “Roadhouse Blues” and “Maggie McGill” for this album. “Waiting for the Sun” also finally made it to a Doors album. “Queen of the Highway” a paean to long standing and suffering girlfriend Pam is a tender ballad. A strong effort but not quite the masterpiece of La Woman.
This album finds Morrison truly with a bad case of the blues. Hounded on legal fronts for his Miami “incident” and charges stemming from his disorderly conduct aboard and aircraft, Morrison’s spirit appears sapped which added a world weary sound to his vocals.
Morrison remarked on this album to friends, “finally we are making a blues album.” Well not quite. The blues are prominent on this album but it’s a blend of blues (witness their cover of John Lee Hooker’s “Crawling King Snake”), Doors blues (“Been Down So Long” –title nicked from the book of the same title) and the Doors (“LA Woman” with its “city of night” lyrics also lifted from a novel). Session musicians (not violinists and horn players but a bassist and rhythm guitarist) were brought in to fill out the sound. Manzarek’s left hand keyboards had in effect been the exclusive bass player in the band on the first two albums. A real blues sound required a bass player. The albums two longer pieces “La Woman” and “Riders on the Storm” are the highlights. Morrison left for his fateful trip to Paris during the mixing of “La Woman”- which was to become the Doors epitaph.
Did you know?: After Jim Morrison’s death in 1971, the remaining Doors released two albums “Other Voices” (1971) and “Full Circle” (1972). With the Lizard King gone, the band did not have the same appeal and the albums sold poorly.
BOX SET (1997)
A four disk set with one of prereleased recordings organized according to the surviving Door’s favorites. Another disc provides recordings from a New York show which is at least the equal to the material on Absolutely Live. The other two discs contain a smattering of alternative takes, unreleased songs and more live stuff. Not a bad introduction for the Doors novice and a good box set for the fan. “Woman is a Devil” is not on this box and was thrown into the Complete Studio Recordings on a single disc that contains extracts from the box set. “Woman is a Devil” like “The Death of Rock” and “Back Train” on the box set is interesting but not essential listening.
STONED IMMACULATE (2000)
The Doors play on this tribute album featuring John Lee Hooker (who duets with a recorded Morrison), Creed, the Cult, The Stone Temple Pilots and others. This album demonstrates that along with their recordings at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Eddie Vedder, the Doors are a great support band. Creed’s version of “Riders on the Storm” is superb as is the Stone Temple Pilot’s “Break on Through”. John Lee’s “Road House” is a laugh.
BEST-Riders on the Storm 2ND BEST- Break on through WORST- Light My Fire STARS-3
LIVE AT THE MATRIX 1967
A very good live recording of the Doors just before they hit it big bootlegged countless times.
What’s Your Favorite Doors Album? You can pick two:
Please visit the Smaulgld Store for a larger selection of recommended Kindles, books, music, movies and other items.
Or you can support Smaulgld.com by making all your Amazon purchases through the search widget below and by ordering your gold and silver by clicking on the JM bullion ads on the site:
DISCLOSURE: Smaulgld provides the content on this site free of charge. If you purchase items though the links on this site, Smaulgld LLC. will be paid a commission. The prices charged are the same as they would be if you were to visit the sites directly. Please do your own research regarding the suitability of making purchases from the merchants featured on this site.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only. Making investment decisions based on information published by Smaulgld (SG), or any Internet site, is not a good idea. Accordingly, users agree to hold SG, its owner and affiliates, harmless for all information presented on the site. SG presents no warranties. SG is not responsible for any loss of data, financial loss, interruption in services, claims of libel, damages or loss from the use or inability to access SG, any linked content, or the reliance on any information on the site.
The information contained herein does not constitute investment advice and may be subject to correction, completion and amendment without notice. SG assumes no duty to make any such corrections or updates. As with all investments, there are associated risks and you could lose money investing. Prior to making any investment, a prospective investor should consult with its own investment, accounting, legal and tax advisers to evaluate independently the risks, consequences and suitability of that investment. SG disclaims any and all liability relating to any investor reliance on the accuracy of the information contained herein or relating to any omissions or errors and as such disclaims any and all losses that may result.