The Doors - The Doors - Review
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critics' view

1967 dawned with The Doors debut LP in January. At the time of release they were: Jim Morrison (24, lead vocals); Ray Manzarek (27, keyboards); Robby Krieger (20, guitar) and John Densmore (22, drums). The Angelinos had formed in mid ’65 and had perfectly honed these songs in their live sets prior to stepping into the studio in August ’66. One week was all it took to lay down this epic set – a typically 60s time scale which shames many groups of later era’s. There are nine group compositions on board as well as two covers; “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)”, a show-tune which had originally been done by Lotte Lenya & Irene Eden in the musical “Mahagonny Songspiel” in July 1927, and “Back Door Man” which had previously been done by Howlin’ Wolf in 1960. The Doors, however, are one of those rare groups who just turn everything into their very own; this is mainly down to the complete uniqueness of Jim Morrison’s vocals and Ray Manzarek’s dazzling organ play; he is to Rock n Roll what Bach was to Classical. This was a sheer adventure playground – a highly skilled set with great songs at every turn, from raunchy sexiness to playful cabaret to the darkest theatre.

Producer Paul Rothchild revealed some fascinating insight about “The End”, undoubtedly one of the most intense masterpieces ever to be committed to tape: “When The End was first performed in the studio, we took almost a whole day to set it up, because it was a very complex piece to record. When we finally got the tape rolling, it was THE most awe-inspiring thing I'd ever witnessed in the studio. It's still one of the top musical events of my LIFE, and I've made over 160 records. We were about 6 minutes into it when I turned to Bruce (Botnick, the Doors' engineer on every album) and said ‘Do you understand what's happening here? This is one of the most important moments in recorded rock 'n' roll’. Bruce was a just a kid then, and he said, ‘Really?’ I said, ‘Stop listening to the sound – it's fine – and listen to THE SONG.’ When it was done, I had goose-bumps from head to toe. It was MAGIC. I went into the studio, and I told them exactly what I just told you, and then, I asked them to do it again. ‘Let's make sure we've got it.’ So they did it again, and it was equally brilliant. Afterwards, Ray said ‘Whew, I don't think we can do that any better.’ I said, ‘You don't have to. Between the two takes, we have one of the best masters ever cut.’ It turns out we used the front half of take one, and the back half of take two. We did the same thing with Light My Fire.”

All over the States, many artsy types had similarly ambitious psychedelia projects at this time – but, like all the top thrillers, the crème de la crème was made in Hollywood.

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