Strange Days (album)

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Strange Days
AlbumStrangeDays.jpg
Studio album by the Doors
Released September 25, 1967 (1967-09-25)
Recorded May–August 1967
Studio Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California
Genre Psychedelic rock, acid rock
Length 35:25
Label Elektra
Producer Paul A. Rothchild
the Doors chronology
The Doors
(1967)
Strange Days
(1967)
Waiting for the Sun
(1968)
Singles from Strange Days
  1. "People Are Strange"
    Released: September 1967
  2. "Love Me Two Times"
    Released: November 1967

Strange Days is the second studio album by the American rock band the Doors, released in September 1967. It was a commercial success, initially earning a gold record and reaching No. 3 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The album also yielded two top 30 hit singles, "People Are Strange" and "Love Me Two Times", and eventually a platinum certification.

Recording[edit]

Strange Days was recorded between May and August 1967 at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, the same studio as their first LP, only this time using an 8-track recording console. Unlike on their debut, which had been recorded in six days, the extra time allowed the band to experiment in the studio, often augmenting their already otherworldly sound with unusual instrumentation and sonic manipulation. According to Jerry Hopkins' Morrison biography No One Here Gets Out Alive, the title track was one of the earliest uses of a Moog synthesizer in rock, while on the Morrison poem "Horse Latitudes" engineer Bruce Botnick took the white noise of a tape recorder, varied the speed by hand-winding it, and got something that sounded like wind, with the four band members all playing musical instruments in unusual ways - plucking the strings of a piano, for instance - and the organic sounds were tampered with electronically to create different times and effects.[1][full citation needed] In his 2010 interview with guitarist Robby Krieger, Guitar Player's Barry Cleveland reported that according to Botnick the monstrous distortion sound on the guitar solo in "When the Music's Over" was produced by cascading the outputs of several channels on the board into one another so that each tube microphone preamp overdrove the next, increasing the distortion.[citation needed]

Composition[edit]

Much like their debut album, Strange Days features several moody, authentically odd songs, although some critics feel it does not quite match up to its stellar predecessor. In his AllMusic review of the album, Richie Unterberger notes, "Many of the songs on Strange Days had been written around the same time as the ones that appeared on The Doors, and with hindsight one has the sense that the best of the batch had already been cherry picked for the debut album. For that reason, the band's second effort isn't as consistently stunning as their debut, though overall it's a very successful continuation of the themes of their classic album." Two of the songs contained on the album had been demoed in 1965 at Trans World Pacific Studios before Krieger joined the group: "My Eyes Have Seen You" and "Moonlight Drive".[2] A second recording of "Moonlight Drive" was made in late 1966, but this version was deemed unsatisfactory. Though a conventional blues arrangement, "Moonlight Drive"'s defining features was its slightly off-beat rhythm and Krieger's 'Bottle-neck' guitar, which creates an eerie sound.[3] "Moonlight Drive" was the song that inspired keyboardist Ray Manzarek to form a group with Morrison after his old UCLA friend sang it to him on a California beach in 1965. Morrison wrote it during his halcyon days on a rooftop in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California in 1965, later stating, "I was taking notes at a fantastic rock 'n' roll concert going on in my head." In a 1998 interview with Fresh Air on NPR Radio, Manzarek recalled:

I said, "Sing me a song." So he sat down on the beach, dug his hands into the sand, and the sand started streaming out in little rivulets, and he kind of closed his eyes and he began to sing in a Chet Baker, haunted whisper kind of voice ... I thought, "Ooooh, spooky and cool, man! I can do all kinds of stuff behind that ...[citation needed]

The LP's first single, "People Are Strange", was composed in early 1967 after Krieger, drummer John Densmore, and a depressed Morrison had walked to the top of Laurel Canyon.[4] Densmore recalled the song's writing process in his book Riders on the Storm.[5] Densmore and Krieger, who had then been roommates, were visited by a dejected Morrison, who was acting "deeply depressed."[5] At the suggestion of Densmore, they took a walk along Laurel Canyon. Morrison returned from the walk "euphoric" with the early lyrics of "People Are Strange".[5] Krieger, intrigued by the new lyrics, was convinced that the song was a hit upon hearing the vocal melody.[5] In a 1997 interview with Guitar World, Krieger recalled:

Jim came up to my house in Laurel Canyon one night, and he was in one of his suicidal, downer moods. So John said, "Come on Jim, we'll go see the sunset. That'll get you out of this" ... Jim had a total mood flip-flop, and said, "Wow! Now I know why I felt like that. It's because if you're strange, people are strange." And he wrote the lyrics right there. Then I came up with the music and we went back down the hill.[citation needed]

Morrison's obsessive preoccupation with death informs many of the compositions, although themes of insecurity ("People Are Strange"), troubled relationships ("I Can't See Your Face in My Mind") and alienation ("Unhappy Girl", "When the Music's Over") are also evident. In his essay on the album that appears on the Doors' official website, critic David Fricke suggests that the lyrics to "People Are Strange" actually "were a prescient suspicion, an expression of isolation and mistrust in an era where many spoke freely — too casually — of love and utopia."[citation needed] Fricke goes on to say:

Morrison returned to that wariness and exile in Strange Days' title song, clearly written with the additional strained experience of arena shows and lunatic adoration. The intimate tension and erotic confrontation that shocked and beguiled the Doors' audiences in L.A. discotheques had bloomed into a bigger, dangerous theater of mad ego and mob rule that would soon land Morrison in handcuffs, then into a Florida court with disastrous consequences, and ultimately prove fatal to the Doors as a concert band.[citation needed]

Although Morrison was the Doors' primary lyricist, Robby Krieger wrote several of the groups hit singles (the first song the guitarist ever wrote was "Light My Fire"), including the bluesy "Love Me Two Times". According to band members, the song was about a soldier/sailor on his last day with his girlfriend before shipping out, ostensibly to war. Manzarek described the song as "Robby's great blues/rock classic about lust and lost, or multiple orgasms, I'm not sure which."[6] In 1997, Krieger stated to Guitar World's Alan Paul that the musical idea for "Love Me Two Times" came from a lick from a Danny Kalb album. Manzarek played the final version of this song on a harpsichord, not a clavichord.[6] Manzarek described the instrument as "a most elegant instrument that one does not normally associate with rock and roll."[6] It was edited to a 2:37 length and released as the second single (after "People Are Strange") from that album, and reached number 25 on the charts in the US.[7] "Love Me Two Times" was considered to be somewhat risqué for radio airplay, being banned in New Haven for being "too controversial," much to the dismay of the band.[5] Krieger also composed the ethereal "You're Lost Little Girl," revealing in the liner notes of the 1997 Doors rarities collection Box Set that it was "one of the first songs I ever wrote. I had trouble doing the guitar solo on this one so Paul Rothchild had everyone leave the studio. We lit some candles and turned out the lights. 'Try it now,' he said. I got it in one take."[citation needed]

The nearly eleven minute "When the Music's Over", which contains Morrison's angry protest, "We want the world and we want it now!" drew comparisons to the group's earlier epic "The End" from their first LP, and for good reason: both display Morrison's apocalyptic imagery, both feature quiet to loud musical dynamics, and both conclude their respective albums. Krieger addressed the issue in a 1994 interview with Guitar World's Alan Paul:

Krieger: I'll admit that "When the Music's Over" was similar to "The End" in length and structure, but so what? Something works, so you do it again. It's one of my favorite songs.
GW: I don't think that Morrison's poetry rap is quite as interesting on "When the Music's Over" as "The End."
Krieger: No, it's not. How could you possibly top "The End"? What's left once you've fucked your mother and killed your father? [laughs][citation needed]

In the same interview, Krieger claimed the guitar solo was inspired by jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, who often soloed over static harmonies and minimal chord structures. The song is also notable for Densmore's rather violent drum accents during the quieter interludes. In 2010 Densmore explained to Modern Drummer's Machael Parillo, "It was a real quiet section, then I’d play something real loud, just for a second. I’m a real fan of dynamics. That’s everything to me. Music, if it has a full range of dynamics, it’s like a human being breathing and going through all the emotions."[this quote needs a citation]

According to David Fricke's review of the album on the band's official website, Morrison wrote the album's harrowing spoken piece "Horse Latitudes" when he was a teenager in Florida, with Fricke quoting the singer from an interview with Jerry Hopkins in 1969: "I kept a lot of notebooks in high school and college, and then when I left school, for some dumb reason...I threw them all away. There's nothing I can think of that I'd rather have in my possession now than those lost notebooks."[citation needed]

Artwork[edit]

The album cover of Strange Days, photographed by Joel Brodsky, depicts a group of street performers in New York. The location of the photograph is at Sniffen Court, a residential alley off of East 36th Street between Lexington and Third Avenue in Manhattan. The availability of such performers pictured was low, so Brodsky's assistant stood in as a juggler while a random cab driver was paid $5 to pose playing the trumpet. Twin dwarfs were hired, with one appearing on the front cover and one appearing on the back cover, which is the other half of the same photo on the front cover. However, a group shot of the band does appear on a poster in the background of both covers, bearing captions of the band and album name. (The same photograph previously appeared on the back cover of the band's debut album.) Because of the subtlety of the artist and album title, most record stores put stickers across the cover to help customers identify it more clearly.[8]

Release[edit]

Strange Days was released on September 25, 1967, by Elektra Records. It reached No. 3 in the US in November 1967, while the Doors' debut was still sitting in the top ten over ten months since its release. Despite its success, the album's producer Paul Rothchild considered it a commercial failure: "We all thought it was the best album. Significantly, it was also the one with the weakest sales. We were confident it was going to be bigger than anything The Beatles had done. But there was no single. The record died on us."[9] "People Are Strange" reached No. 12 on the US chart, and "Love Me Two Times" followed, going to No. 25, thus proving the band's staying power after the runaway success of their debut. In the UK, they had yet to score a big hit single, and Strange Days became one of two Doors studio albums not to chart, despite subsequent strong sales. The album has sold over 9 million copies to date.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[10]
Down Beat 4/5 stars[11] bach
MusicHound 3.5/5[12]
Q 3/5 stars[11]
Rolling Stone (favorable)[13]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[14]
Slant Magazine 4.5/5 stars[15]
Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music 4/5 stars[16]

Music critic Robert Christgau called the album "muscular but misshapen" in a May 1968 column for Esquire, but went on to write that The Doors had come "from nowhere to reign as America's heaviest group".[17] In its November 23, 1967 review of the album, Rolling Stone enthused, "'My Eyes Have Seen You,' 'Strange Days,' and 'Love Me Two Times,' all have the same commercial potential of 'Light My Fire.' They are heavy, evocative and climactic pieces."[citation needed] Critics still rank the album highly; in 2003, Strange Days ranked at number 407 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2007, Rolling Stone included it on their list "The 40 Essential Albums of 1967".[18] AllMusic states, "The band was hard-pressed to beat the huge commercial and critical success of its debut record released earlier the same year, but managed to follow with a surprisingly strong group of songs, many of them drawn from the same pool of material written around the same time as The Doors."[citation needed] Slant Magazine "Strange Days exists as a document of a sometimes beautiful, sometimes scary, and often twisted era of fear and idealism."[citation needed]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by The Doors (Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, and John Densmore) with the original writers noted as such. 

Side A
No. Title Length
1. "Strange Days" (written by Jim Morrison) 3:11
2. "You're Lost Little Girl" (written by Robby Krieger) 3:03
3. "Love Me Two Times" (written by Krieger) 3:18
4. "Unhappy Girl" (written by Morrison) 2:02
5. "Horse Latitudes" (written by Morrison) 1:37
6. "Moonlight Drive" (written by Morrison) 3:05
Side B
No. Title Length
7. "People Are Strange" (written by Morrison and Krieger) 2:13
8. "My Eyes Have Seen You" (written by Morrison) 2:32
9. "I Can't See Your Face in My Mind" (written by Morrison) 3:26
10. "When the Music's Over"   10:58

Personnel[edit]

The Doors
Additional musicians
Technical

Chart positions[edit]

Album
Chart (1967) Peak
position
US Billboard 200[19] 3
Singles
Year Single Chart Position
1967 "People Are Strange"
B-side: "Unhappy Girl"
Pop Singles 12[19]
1967 "Love Me Two Times"
B-side: "Moonlight Drive"
Pop Singles 25[19]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[20] Platinum 100,000^
France (SNEP)[21] 2× Gold 200,000*
Germany (BVMI)[22] Gold 250,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[23] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[24] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hopkins & Sugarman 1980, p. 128.
  2. ^ Tom Maginnis. "Moonlight Drive - The Doors - Listen, Appearances, Song Review - AllMusic". AllMusic. 
  3. ^ The Doors. eM Publications. p. 231. 
  4. ^ Hoskyns, Barney (2007). Strange Day. Rhino Entertainment Company. p. 7. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Densmore, John (Nov 4, 2009). Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 9780307429025. 
  6. ^ a b c Manzarek, Ray (Oct 15, 1999). Light My Fire. Penguin. p. 258. ISBN 9780698151017. 
  7. ^ "((( The Doors > Awards )))". AllMusic. Retrieved October 21, 2012. 
  8. ^ "Classic Album Covers : Strange Days – The Doors". Never Mind the Bus Pass. February 2, 2012. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Bam Interview – Paul Rothchild". waiting-forthe-sun.net. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  10. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Strange Days – The Doors | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "The Doors – Strange Days CD Album". CD Universe/Muze. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  12. ^ Graff, Gary; Durchholz, Daniel (eds) (1999). MusicHound Rock: The Essential Album Guide. Farmington Hills, MI: Visible Ink Press. p. 358. ISBN 1-57859-061-2. 
  13. ^ "[Strange Days review]". Rolling Stone. November 23, 1967. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  14. ^ "The Doors: Album Guide". rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  15. ^ Cinquemani, Sal (April 18, 2007). "The Doors: Strange Days | Album Review | Slant Magazine". Slant. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  16. ^ "The Doors Strange Days". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved August 31, 2015. 
  17. ^ Christgau, Robert (May 1968). "Columns". Esquire. Retrieved May 26, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Rolling Stone : Photos : The 40 Essential Albums of 1967 :". Rolling Stone. 2007. Archived from the original on July 7, 2007. Retrieved December 20, 2014. 
  19. ^ a b c "The Doors – Chart history" Billboard 200 for The Doors. Retrieved 21 June 2016.
  20. ^ "Canadian album certifications – The Doors – Strange Days". Music Canada. 
  21. ^ "French album certifications – Doors – Strange Days" (in French). InfoDisc.  Select DOORS and click OK
  22. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Doors; 'Strange Days')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  23. ^ "British album certifications – Doors – Strange Days". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Strange Days in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Gold in the field By Award. Click Search
  24. ^ "American album certifications – The Doors – Strange Days". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH

External links[edit]