The Doors “Greatest Hits” 1980. Today, February 12th, would have been Doors’ co-founder and keyboardist Ray Manzarek’s 80th birthday (b. 1939, d. 2013). Greatest Hits came out well after the demise of The Doors, of course; it was released not long after the film Apocalypse Now (its soundtrack included “The End” which does not appear on this comp LP) and both served to reinvigorate The Doors’ catalog. It was probably around that time that The Doors entered my consciousness (the first song I distinctly remember is “Hello, I Love You” which The Doors kinda ripped off from The Kinks) since I was born less than month after Jim Morrison died. Greatest Hits really does have most of The Doors best and most popular tracks (missing though is one of my faves, “Peace Frog” which is a bummer but fortunately it does not have “Land Ho” which I can’t stand). Besides “Hello, I Love You,” Side A of Greatest Hits includes “Light My Fire” – so epic and the perfect showcase for Manzarek’s psych keys, “People Are Strange” (which I was obsessed with in the later 80′s as a result of Echo and Bunnymen’s version for The Lost Boys) and “Riders on the Storm.” Side B has “Break on Through,” “Roadhouse Blues” (I have bemoaned Morrison’s poetry in the past but the line “I woke this morning and I got myself a beer” is perfection), “Not To Touch the Earth” (this is one track that I don’t know that well), “Touch Me” (which I’m not overly fond of) and “L.A. Woman” (that song will always remind me of playing endless games of pool during college when I really should have been studying – I think it was on repeat on the student union jukebox because it’s a rocker that clocks in at just under 8 minutes making it a bargain for poor college kids).
The Doors “The Doors” released on this date, January 4th, 1967. I was all excited that it was the 50th anniversary of The Doors until I realized it’s now 2018. Whoops. Still definitely worth a spin; The Doors’ debut album is considered one of the greatest albums of all-time, millions of copies sold and counting, and it has been included in the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry. Despite the sometimes dubious poetry of Jim Morrison, The Doors marked a significant step forward in the evolution of psychedelic album rock in the US (The Beatles, of course, took the first leap with Sgt. Peppers) and propelled Manzarek-style keyboards into a 60′s signature sound. Although The Doors only released two singles from the LP, “Break On Through (To the Other Side)” (#126 on Billboard) and “Light My Fire” (which went to #1 and pissed off Ed Sullivan), the whole album still flows seamlessly through the rock world consciousness as a single entity. Besides those two singles, my favorite tracks are “Soul Kitchen” (also love X’s cover!), “Twentieth Century Fox,” “I Looked at You,” “Take It As It Comes” and the cover of “Back Door Man” (originally by Willie Dixon and recorded by Howlin’ Wolf). I’m less excited about the The Doors’ rendition of Brecht and Weill’s “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)” and the epic Oedipal track “The End” – as critic Robert Christgau wrote about it, it has a “nebulousness that passes for depth among so many lovers of rock poetry” (i.e. “Lost in a Roman wilderness of pain, And all the children are insane” and “The end of laughter and soft lies, The end of nights we tried to die, This is the end”). “The End” has made it onto both best songs of all-time lists as well as worst songs plus countless parodies (the best: when Nirvana parodied the song live with Kurt Cobain singing different lyrics and Krist Novoselic drunkenly doing improvised spoken word parts about the killer awaking in Belgium and craving waffles, hash browns and grits). It gained a resurgence of popularity with its inclusion at the opening and ending sequences in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now.