Yes, the river knows....
Released July 1968
After two excellent, ground-breaking albums released in 1967, expectations were high for The Doors' third album. It was a short album, only thirty-three minutes in length, and not including an extended closer as there was on the previous two. The general tone was softer and mellower, more relaxed. There is not the same intensity as on certainly the debut album, but there is still some fine material floating around. I quite like the album and it has a wonderful sound quality too. For me, there is a case for it being a better album than its predecessor, Strange Days. It feels more complete and rounded. Maybe it is The Doors' equivalent of Led Zeppelin III. Its dabbling with the experimental on some of the mid-album material probably put it just below Strange Days at the end of the day, but it is an album worthy of many listens.
1. Hello, I Love You
2. Love Street
3. Not To Touch The Earth
4. Summer's Almost Gone
5. Wintertime Love
6. The Unknown Soldier
7. Spanish Caravan
8. My Wild Love
9. We Could Be So Good Together
10. Yes, The River Knows
11. Five To One
The opener, the synthesiser-driven Hello, I Love You was the album's most catchy track. It sounds suspiciously like The Kinks' All Day And All Of The Night, however. It had a solid rock appeal to it and typical sixties lyrics in "hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name..". Sure, man, if you'll stare at the sky with me. Love Street is beautifully melodic and appealing. It has a delicious bass sound and lovely keyboard solo in the middle. Morrison's vocal is wonderfully beguiling, as always. There is a great atmosphere to this track. Not To Touch The Earth is a pounding, paranoid-sounding rock number with an excellent descending guitar riff and some wild, swirling organ breaks. The Stranglers certainly listened to this.
Summer's Almost Gone is a bassy, impressive mid-pace rock number with some lovely guitar and keyboard sounds. There are Beatles-esque hints on here as well. I really like this one. Wintertime Love is a short, jaunty, teutonic-sounding waltzy number. The Unknown Soldier is, as its titles suggest, an anti-war song and is hard-hitting in its lyrics and experimental musical soundscape. Musically, it is probably the weirdest track on the album. Its drum sound has a serious thump to it.
The mood changes with the beautiful flamenco guitar of Spanish Caravan, which mines a bucolic seam in its hippy-ish lyrics about going off and wandering around to Spain. It's guitar, drum and keyboard interplay at the end is decidedly "prog-rock". These last two tracks have been quite experimental, and this is continued on the gospelly but stark chanting vocal/rhythm of the bizarre My Wild Love. A more typical Doors sound returns on the upbeat We Could Be So Good Together. It is a bit more formulaic, but is still a good one.
Yes, The River Knows is a laid-back ballad, with an almost jazzy sound, some jazz guitar and solid stand up bass. The vocal is sonorous and mysterious. Five To One is a menacing, enigmatic number with hints as to the sort of stuff Alice Cooper would release a few years later. It is an interesting track with some killer guitar that deserves repeat listenings. The same can be said for this underrated album.