This is the end, my friend....
Released January 1967
Recorded at Sunset Sound, Hollywood, California
One of the foundation stones of the sixties “psychedelic rock” explosion. This was a truly stunning debut album. Bluesy, classically-influenced in places, particularly in its trademark organ swirling sound, and jazzy in its percussion it also had a singer in Jim Morrison who was full of sensual, sexy, vaguely threatening charisma and a unique voice. It is also packed full of perplexing, poetic lyrics. Released in January 1967, it is often overlooked in favour of Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde or The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper when the great mid-late sixties albums are discussed. There is a fair case for this being the best of the lot. Not many albums bettered this one, particularly not debut albums. The Doors never reached these heights again in their other five albums, despite many high points, nothing quite reached the perfection of this.
1. Break On Through
2. Soul Kitchen
3. The Crystal Ship
4. Twentieth Century Fox
5. Alabama Song
6. Light My Fire
7. Back Door Man
8. I Looked At You
9. End of The Night
10. Take It As It Comes
11. The End
Break On Through has a hypnotic percussion and organ intro and an even more funky organ break in the middle, together with a sonorous, characterful vocal from Morrison full of mysterious, slightly menacing undertones. The sound on this remastered version (from the complete albums box set) is truly superb. Crystal clear, sharp but beautifully bass reproduction too. That semi-funky organ is at it again on the rumbling Soul Kitchen. Excellent guitar, drums and vocals. This is as good a late sixties rock got. Sublime. When the guitar kicks in around 2.25 your speakers practically jump with the shock. The Crystal Ship is a trippy, dreamy piece of wistful, floaty hippy rock, with lyrics about “gentle rain” and a classically-influenced stately piano passage. Morrison’s vocal is once again a mighty one. Haughty and melodramatic. Many of those new romantics must have been listening to this. Twentieth Century Fox has more of that impossibly catchy percussion and organ. This section of four short songs in sixties psychedelic pop at its very best.
The cover of Bertolt Brecht’s Alabama Song is a good one. I have never been a fan of the song, well, of David Bowie’s cover at least, but this version is the better one. Fairground organ parts and a convincing vocal.
Then we get one of the cornerstones of the album, the lengthy, glorious, magnificent Light My Fire, with its iconic organ riff intro, catchy refrain and soaring, leery, haunting vocal. As for the extended oran, bass and drums instrumental break, words fail me. One of rock’s finest passages. Simply without compare.
The blues influence is full on in the chugging, insistent menace of Back Door Man. Perfect blues rock. Just a great vibe to it. Listening to this album you just feel you are at a crazy sixties party, man. Now, where are those incense sticks..
I Looked At You is the most sixties pop of the tracks, very Kinks-like in its short, sharp attack. There are real overtones of the sort of sound used by many of the late seventies/early eighties “post punk” bands in the song, at times. End Of The Night is a beguiling, enigmatic number that, were it not for The End would have made a good closer. Take It As It Comes is an upbeat, bassy rocker. Another short, sharp hit of a track. Apart from the two lengthy monsters, the album is all sub-three minute mini-classics. This ensures that you have an appetite for the two long tracks. The album never gets bogged down.
The End. Well. Atmospheric. Evocative. A work of genius from the first notes. That backing and Morrison’s vocal when it first comes in sends shivers down your spine. Only The Velvet Underground’s Heroin came close to this amount of brooding majesty at the time. That was from two months later, funnily enough. This song is getting on for twelve minutes of brilliance. Bizarre lyrics about “riding the snake” and the “Roman wilderness of pain”. Far out, man. The sound on the remaster just blows you away. Superb stuff. An exhilarating, sense-invading end to what was a remarkable album. The blue bus is calling us….