The Doors – “The Doors” (1967) – “Strange Days” (1967) – “Waiting for the Sun” (1968)

January 13, 2010 at 7:17 am (Jim Morrison, Music, Reviews & Articles)

An International Times review from Sept. 6, 1968 by Miles discussing the first 3 Doors albums…


The Doors are one of the finest groups in the world! Shall I remind you? The words — all by the Doors — say more than a thousand underground papers.

The music – listen to their three albums. The first notes we ever heard from the Doors were the ‘Tequila’-like chords opening ‘Break on Through (To the other Side)’ when at once their technique of building tension, bursting through and then climaxing again in a new way soon after, became apparent. Very natural, like breathing.

The openings usually reflect the Rock intros of the late 50’s, but instead of simple 12-bar repetition they change the music at once: feeling, time, tempo, all in flux. Listen to the beautiful guitar solo on ‘Break on Through’ from Robby Krieger, just tinged with nostalgia. And the full backing like huge ripe full grapes bouncing into the cask, each note a complex chord, each with a subtle difference, the seemingly similar notes filled with the complexities of Tintoretto’s deep shadows, strange patterns becoming more apparent. Highlights glisten and bounce off the ochre syllables of Jim Morrison.

The only song they didn’t write on this side was ‘The Whisky Song’ by Weill/Brecht. Their range is enormous, their sound reaches through the beer-taverns of Germany with a thundering beat, whispering the deep-green pines and old stones of the valley’s and encompasses this song with a familiarity and ease of genius.

The 6 1/2-minutes epic ‘Light My Fire’ – driving, whining, wailing guitar – asteroids speaking by laser in deep space – the ‘Voice of the Spheres’. Ray Manzarek dances either side of the beat like a mountain deer at full speed towards the lone pine. A fugue perhaps? Very religious somehow – soaring into Gothic spires with a heavy heavy beat behind: explosions, rolls, stucato, bombs, cross-rhythms, simultaneous time-mix, John Densmore gives him everything, the church shakes and the Holy Ghost guitar beams in like a searchlight through Chartres-rose windows bathing the whole scene in magic white light. Like God, never ending, this number goes on – a ubiquitous presence in other, later, records and in other artists’ music. THE rock and roll number of the new age of enlightenment!

‘The End’ with its Raga intro – delineating the armature, the structure to build on. In comes the drifting, trance-like guitar over an echoing, deeper and deeper backing, gaining ever ever in size – a hall, an amphitheatre, a giant granite structure, a country. In the middle the insistent prophet, speaking the words piercing home like darts into Saint Sebastian wobbling level of consciousness. It is obviously right, the figures in the vast black shadows sway in agreement. What is he saying? The words can’t be THAT direct – about killing father and mother? The message of the Underground (Freudian/symbolic) spelt out in controlled-hysteric-controlled calls. Calls are TO somebody, from Jim Morrison. Clip-plonk driving music taking the kids away – leaving their draft-card ashes and underwear – never the same again, can’t go back to the suburbs. It’s amazing, the power of an 11 1/2 minute track!

Then came Strange Days with the best cover of 1967 and Jim Morrison’s shout electronically repeated, carried electrically up and out, of hearing register – and the next one? Was that him or the remembered echo of the machine?

The gentle slow clear guitar intro to ‘You’re Lost Little Girl’ with its unobtrusive arrangements. The clean solo from Robby is from a high Tibetan pass, the free mind swooping among crags and shortens. Krieger is a Yellow-Hat and on the next track he is rocking along in an R & B tempo on ‘Love Me Two Times’. He backs Ray Manzarek’s harpsichord-like solo in which a new time dimension jumps in and his pulsing inner-beat (Fundamental experience – personal brain/soul rhythm) dictates his fingers superimposed over the beat. The daring of his fondling with time turns Bartok over wet.

Remember Jim’s vocal on ‘Moonlight Drive’? Up-beat driving Presley phrasing with uh-huh’s and ugh’s. The electric music of the sixties, the last third of the 20th century and we are going out in style! Not parody like Zappa, more tribute, like Picasso to Velazquez or Manet to Giorgione.

‘My Eyes Have Seen You’ – built-up built-up repeat “move upstairs, move upstairs”, the guitar bursts through: melodic, beautiful “gazing on a city under television skies”. The meticulous structure built up for ‘The Music’s Over’, the use of silence, no useless notes here, every word clear and true – they want you to hear them: “the scream of the butterfly”.

Now another disc: Waiting for the Sun. They’ve been listening to “The USA” that scratching insistant buzzing! A drastic simplification in style. When a space occurs it is left empty but for thoughts.

Clear voices say what they have to say, no phasing or echoes. Fine-edged editing on ‘Not to Touch the Earth’ – they speed up, the buzz becomes a hard bop tenor sax, but only for three bars, huge shortlived 10 finger organ chords. The musical grid shifts, the electronic sound betrays a mid-European waltz on ‘Wintertime Love’ or even opera in Venice but… the grid shifts and moves on. Chain gang call and response (was it Cannonball Adderley who?) No. Here’s what they are saying – the spoken thoughts of Jim Morrison over high-soloing Robby and a dirge-bass chanting. ‘Five to One’ – “They’ve Got The Guns But We’ve Got The Numbers, Come On Baby, We’re Taking Over….. Goin’ a Make It Baby, In Our Prime”. Thus we have the Doors with us.

“The Music Is Your Special Friend,
Dance On Fire As It Intends,
Music Is Your Only Friend,
Until The End,
Until The End,
Until The END!”

Miles

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