Sunday, 3 March 2019

The Doors - Strange Days (1967)


  

Released September 1967

Released hot on the heels of both the band's debut album, "The Doors" and, more significantly, The Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper", most of the tracks came from the same sessions as for the debut album. I do get the feeling, slightly, that some of these may have been the leftovers from those sessions. I know that many view this as an underrated classic that doesn't get the credit it deserves, but, for me, it is the lesser of the first two Doors albums. The debut album as so good, it is not surprising. There are hidden treasures on here, however. Each listen gets you more into it.

TRACK LISTING

1. Strange Days
2. You're Lost Little Girl
3. Love Me Two Times
4. Unhappy Girl
5. Horse Latitudes
6. Moonlight Drive
7. People Are Strange
8. My Eyes Have Seen You
9. I Can't See Your Face In My Mind
10. When The Music's Over

Apart from the extended closer, all the tracks are short and punchy, often only two minutes or so in length, which give the album a refreshing, upbeat energy. Many of them end before you know it, however. At times some of them almost seem like demos, not quite complete. The title track, apparently, features the first use of a moog synthesiser. It is a swirling, dreamy and mysterious track, typical of its psychedelic, drug-addled age. There is a solid rockiness to it in places and a trademark, sonorous vocal from Jim Morrison. "You're Lost Little Girl" is deliciously enigmatic and eerie. It is a clear influence on The Stranglers' post-punk output circa 1980-82. "Love Me Two Times" is a very recognisable as a Doors track, full of quirky, staccato rhythms and Morrison's vocal almost sounding English. It has a superb, medieval keyboard solo.

"Unhappy Girl" is a short, breezy beguiling number, while "Horse Latitudes" is a short narrative poem, rendered maniacally by Morrison (a young Jim Steinman would no doubt have loved this). "Moonlight Drive" has a catchy, sixties hippy funkiness to it, with some interesting, unusual guitar bits. "When You're Strange" is a jaunty, fairground-ish romp. "My Eyes Have Seen You" has some of that psychedelic air about it. It rocks quite solidly in parts too, with powerful drums and bass. The same vaguely Eastern atmosphere continues on the druggy "I Can't See Your Face In My Mind". The vocal is once again delightfully perplexing.

"When The Music's Over" is this album's equivalent to the debt's "The End". It is even better in my opinion, crammed full of atmosphere, menacing vocals and a simply sublime bass. It moody magnificence is totally at odds with the short, almost throwaway nature of the rest of the material. It is a true epic. After the "we want the world and we want it now" bit, the track bursts into a maelstrom of organ, drums and bass. The Doors at their regal best. Personally, stuff like this was way ahead of its time, way ahead of "Sgt. Pepper" in places too (whisper it quietly). It is never really given credit for being so, though. Maybe it wasn't, then, but it is for me, anyway.

The sound quality is excellent on the remastering on the album as contained in "The Complete Studio Albums" box set. I much prefer the stereo recording to the mono. While mono was great for some artists' recordings, for me, The Doors are always better in stereo.

B

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