The Doors (album)
|Studio album by the Doors|
|Released||January 4, 1967|
|Recorded||August 24–31, 1966|
|Studio||Sunset Sound Recorders, Hollywood, California|
|Producer||Paul A. Rothchild|
|the Doors chronology|
|Singles from The Doors|
The Doors is the eponymous debut album by American rock band the Doors, recorded in August 1966 and released on January 4, 1967 (although the album was available in various record stores in New York City as early as the third week in December 1966 as part of a special promotion). It was originally released in different stereo and mono mixes, and features the breakthrough single "Light My Fire", extended with an instrumental section mostly omitted on the single release, and the lengthy song "The End" with its Oedipal spoken word section. The Doors credit the success of the album to being able to work the songs out night after night at the Whisky a Go Go in West Hollywood California, and the London Fog nightclubs.
The Doors was not only one of the albums to have been most central to the progression of psychedelic rock, but is also one of the most acclaimed recordings in all of popular music. In 2012, it was ranked number 42 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time; it continues to hold similarly high positions on other "best-of" lists.
The original album has sold 20 million copies, and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame; "Light My Fire" was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame under the category, "Rock (track)". It has been reissued several times on CD, including a 2007 remaster that became the Doors' most successful studio album in commercial sales.
The Doors' final lineup was formed in mid-1965 after Ray Manzarek's two brothers left and Robby Krieger joined. Krieger had only been playing the electric guitar for six months when he joined. The group also featured jazz-influenced drummer John Densmore and the charismatic Jim Morrison on vocals. The band was initially signed to Columbia Records under a six-month contract but agreed to a release after the record company failed to secure a producer for the album. After being released from the label, the Doors played club venues, including the London Fog and Whisky a Go Go, until they were signed to Elektra Records by Jac Holzman.
The album was recorded at Sunset Sound Studios in Hollywood, California, over six days, with producer Paul A. Rothchild and audio engineer Bruce Botnick. In the Classic Albums documentary on the making of the album, Densmore states, "By the time we got into the studio, we'd written two albums worth of stuff. So that was a good thirty songs or so. Pretty confident about all of them." A four-track tape machine was used for recording, using mostly three tracks: bass and drums on one, guitar and organ on another, and Morrison's vocals on the third. The fourth track was used for overdubbing. In the Classic Albums documentary, Manzarek states the band "auditioned quite a few bass players ... We auditioned one bass player and we sounded like the Rolling Stones. Then we auditioned a second bass player and we sounded like the Animals." Rothchild brought in session musician Larry Knechtel to play his Fender Precision Bass on "Light My Fire" and a few other songs in order to give some "punch" to the sound of Manzarek's Fender Rhodes piano bass. For "The End", two takes were worked and cut together to achieve the final song. In 1994, Krieger revealed to Alan Paul of Guitar World that Morrison always sang live with the band "but they rarely used the scratch vocal. The exception was 'The End'." In the same interview, the guitarist recalled an incident involving Morrison:
Our engineer, Bruce Botnick, had brought in a TV to watch the World Series, and Jim, who was on a lot of acid, got kind of pissed at that; baseball wasn't exactly conducive to setting the right mood for "The End". So he threw the damn television through the control room window. That got everyone's attention. [laughs]
According to the episode of VH1's Legends on the band, the night the band successfully recorded "The End", Morrison returned to the closed studio, broke in, and sprayed a fire extinguisher all over the room where he had sung. Manzarek recalled to Classic Albums, "The first album is basically the Doors live. There are very few overdubs on the first album ... It's The Doors Live from the Whiskey a Go Go except in a recording studio."
The Doors features many of the group's most famous compositions, including "Light My Fire", "Break On Through (To the Other Side)", and "The End". Although composition credit went to the band as a whole (at Morrison's insistence), the album's primary writers were Morrison and Krieger. "The End"'s Oedipal climax was first performed live at the Whisky a Go Go, but the band was thrown out as a result of Morrison screaming "Mother ... I want to fuck you!" toward the end of the song. In the Classic Albums film, Densmore calls "The End a "ten minute, drone, no-snares, moody séance," recalling:
"The End" actually started out as a love song, a goodbye love song. "This is the end, beautiful friend." Jim sang it to us a capella and we kind of went, "Whoa! Okay, that's dark." And the whole, long ten minute section of poetry and all that stuff kind of evolved playing live. We had sections where he could put in whatever he wanted while we would vamp."
In 1969, Morrison stated:
Everytime I hear that song, it means something else to me. It started out as a simple good-bye song ... Probably just to a girl, but I see how it could be a goodbye to a kind of childhood. I really don't know. I think it's sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to be.
Interviewed by Lizze James, he pointed out the meaning of the verse "My only friend, the end":
Sometimes the pain is too much to examine, or even tolerate ... That doesn't make it evil, though – or necessarily dangerous. But people fear death even more than pain. It's strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over. Yeah – I guess it is a friend...
In "The End", the vocal interlude of the final minutes was mixed down to make Morrison's repeated use of the word "fuck" unintelligable. The song would be featured prominently in Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now!
"Break On Through (To the Other Side)" was actually released as the group's first single and bombed, peaking #126 on the singles chart. Elektra Records edited the line "she gets high", knowing a drug reference would discourage airplay (most remasters from 1999 onward have the original portions of both "Break On Through" and "The End" restored). The song is in 4/4 time and quite fast-paced, starting with Densmore's bossa nova drum groove in which a clave pattern is played as a rim click underneath a driving ride cymbal pattern. Densmore appreciated the new (at the time) bossa nova craze coming from Brazil, so he decided to use it in the song. Robby Krieger has stated that he took the idea for the guitar riff from Paul Butterfield's version of the song "Shake Your Moneymaker" (originally by blues guitarist Elmore James). Later, a disjointed quirky organ solo is played quite similar to the introduction of Ray Charles' "What'd I Say", which has a few intentional misplaced notes in it. The bassline, similar to a typical bass line used in bossa nova, continues almost unhindered all of the way through the songs verses and solo section. The chorus varies slightly, with the last two notes being an octave higher than usual, creating an ascending, repeating phrase.
The Doors breakout hit "Light My Fire" was composed by Krieger. Although the album version was just over seven minutes long, it was widely requested for radio play, so a single version was edited to under three minutes with nearly all the instrumental break removed for airplay on AM radio. Manzarek played the song's bass line with his left hand on a Fender Rhodes Piano Bass, while performing the other keyboard parts on a Vox Continental using his right hand. In the liner notes to the 1997 Doors retrospective Box Set, Krieger claims that it was Morrison who encouraged the others to write songs when they realized they did not have enough original material. In the 1991 Oliver Stone film The Doors, the genesis of the song is depicted, with Krieger explaining to Guitar World in 1994, "It was my idea to have that scene in the movie, by the way. I wanted it in there because it's always kind of bugged me that so many people don't know that I was the composer." The song catapulted the band to fame, including an infamous appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show where Morrison sang the line "You know we couldn't get much higher" although the show's producer asked him not to. Morrison, whose poetry was heavily influenced by the Beats and poets such as William Blake and Arthur Rimbaud, sometimes borrowed from literary sources; the line "Some are born to sweet delight; some are born to endless night", from "End of the Night", is a quote from Blake's poem "Auguries of Innocence." "End of the Night" had been one of the band's earliest writing efforts, having been demoed in 1965. The 1967 version displays Krieger's bottleneck guitar and, according to the 2010 film When You're Strange, Morrison loved it so much he wanted it on every song. "Soul Kitchen," which contains a similar keyboard introduction to the band's next epic "When the Music's Over," displays Morrison's often surreal lyrical twist on the standard pop song:
- The cars crawl past all stuffed with eyes
- Street lights share their hollow glow
- Your brain seems bruised with numb surprise
- Still one place to go
- Still one place to go
In the liner notes to Box Set, Krieger reveals that "Take It as It Comes" was a combination of his music and Morrison's words: "John and I were into transcendental meditation, that's where we first met Ray, and some of my meditation friends were pressuring me to use my influence to help the TM movement and 'Take It As It Comes' just happened to be one of the Maharishi's favorite sayings." "The Crystal Ship" is a love song that displays Morrison's crooning baritone and betrays the influence of Frank Sinatra, with engineer Bruce Botnick telling Classic Albums:
When Jim came into the studio, he'd never recorded before. I didn't know what he was going to be like. My favorite vocal microphone is a Telefunken U-47 and I showed it to him. I said, "This is going to be your mic," and he froze. And he said, "That's great!" I said, "Why is that?" He said, "That's the mic that Frank Sinatra sings in." That's when I realized he was a big fan of Frank Sinatra's. He loved crooners. He liked Bing Crosby, Elvis, all the crooners.
The Doors also contains two cover songs: "Alabama Song" and "Back Door Man". "Alabama Song" was written and composed by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill in 1927, for their opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny). The melody is changed and the verse beginning "Show me the way to the next little dollar..." is omitted. On the album version, lead singer Jim Morrison altered the second verse from "Show us the way to the next pretty boy" to "Show me the way to the next little girl", but on the 1967 Live at the Matrix recording, he sings the original "...next pretty boy." Manzarek plays the marxophone along with the organ and keyboard bass. The Chicago blues "Back Door Man" was written by Willie Dixon and originally recorded by Howlin' Wolf. Manzarek, a classically trained pianist, was raised in Chicago and was a big blues fan, as was Morrison. In his memoir Riders on the Storm: My Life with Jim Morrison and the Doors, Densmore describes it as a song that is "deeply sexual and got everyone moving." "Back Door Man" would remain a part of the band's live show for years, and would often be the show opener.
The Doors was released on January 4, 1967, by Elektra in both mono and stereo versions. The album made a steady climb up the Billboard 200, ultimately becoming a huge success in the US once "Light My Fire" scaled the charts, with the album peaking at No. 2 on the chart in September 1967 (stuck behind The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band) and going on to achieve multi-platinum status. In Europe the band would have to wait slightly longer for similar recognition, with "Light My Fire" originally stalling at No. 49 in the UK singles chart and the album failing to chart at all; however, in 1991, buoyed by the high-profile Oliver Stone film The Doors, a reissue of "Light My Fire" reached No. 7 in the singles chart, and the album reached No. 43. It eventually spent more time on the UK chart than any other Doors studio album.
The mono LP (Elektra EKL-4007) has unique mixes that sound different from the stereo version (EKS-74004). The mono LP version was deleted not long after its original release and remained unavailable until 2010, when it was reissued as a limited edition 180 gram audiophile LP by Rhino Records. This version has never been officially released on compact disc; it is, however, available for purchase through digital media outlets such as iTunes and Amazon.
The 40th anniversary mix of the debut album presents a stereo version of "Light My Fire" in speed-corrected form for the first time. The speed discrepancy (i.e., about 3.5% slow) was brought to Bruce Botnick's attention by a Brigham Young University professor, who noted that all the video and audio live performances of the Doors performing the song, the sheet music and the statements of band members show the song in a key almost a half step higher (key of A) than the stereo LP release (key of Ab / G#). Until the 2006 remasters, only the original 45 RPM singles ("Light My Fire" and "Break On Through") were produced at the correct speed. The running time of "Light My Fire", while listed correctly above, is incorrectly stated as 6:30 or 6:50 on some LP and CD versions of the album. An edited version was issued as the Doors' second single in May 1967, with most of its organ and guitar solos removed it had a running time of 2:52. As per the aforementioned speed discrepancy, the 40th anniversary speed-corrected mix made "Light My Fire" 6:59, with all solos intact.
Reception and legacy
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
|The Village Voice||B–|
In a contemporary review for Crawdaddy! magazine, Paul Williams hailed The Doors as "an album of magnitude" while likening the band to Brian Wilson and the Rolling Stones as creators of "modern music", with which "contemporary 'jazz' and 'classical' composers must try to measure up". Williams added: "The birth of the group is in this album, and it's as good as anything in rock. The awesome fact about the Doors is that they will improve." Robert Christgau was less enthusiastic in his column for Esquire, recommending the album but with reservations; he approved of Manzarek's organ playing and Morrison's "flexible though sometimes faint" singing while highlighting the presence of a "great hard rock original" in "Break on Through" and clever songs such as "Twentieth Century Fox", but was critical of more "esoteric" material such as the "long, obscure dirge" "The End". He also found Morrison's lyrics often self-indulgent, particularly lines like "our love becomes a funeral pyre", which he said spoiled "Light My Fire", and "the nebulousness that passes for depth among so many lovers of rock poetry" on "The End".
The Doors has since been frequently ranked by critics as one of the greatest albums of all time; according to Acclaimed Music, it is the 27th most ranked record on all-time lists. In 2003, Parke Puterbaugh of Rolling Stone called the record "the L.A. foursome's most successful marriage of rock poetics with classically tempered hard rock — a stoned, immaculate classic." AllMusic's Richie Unterberger calls it "A tremendous debut album, and indeed one of the best first-time outings in rock history, introducing the band's fusion of rock, blues, classical, jazz, and poetry with a knock-out punch." Sean Egan of BBC Music opines, "The eponymous debut of The Doors took popular music into areas previously thought impossible: the incitement to expand one's consciousness of opener 'Break on Through' was just the beginning of its incendiary agenda."
The Doors is ranked number 42 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time and also on "The Rolling Stone Hall of Fame". It is ranked number 75 on Q magazine's "100 Greatest Albums Ever" and ranked number 226 in NME magazine's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" In 2007, Rolling Stone ranked it number 1 on their list of the 40 essential albums of 1967.
|1.||"Break On Through (To the Other Side)"||2:29|
|3.||"The Crystal Ship"||2:34|
|4.||"Twentieth Century Fox"||2:33|
|5.||"Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)" (Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill)||3:20|
|6.||"Light My Fire"||7:06|
|7.||"Back Door Man" (Willie Dixon)||3:34|
|8.||"I Looked at You"||2:22|
|9.||"End of the Night"||2:52|
|10.||"Take It as It Comes"||2:23|
|40th Anniversary Edition bonus tracks|
|12.||"Moonlight Drive (Version 1)" (song was written by Morrison and recorded in August 1966 (both versions))||2:42|
|13.||"Moonlight Drive (Version 2)"||2:31|
|14.||"Indian Summer" (lyrics written by Morrison & music by Krieger and recorded August 1966)||2:35|
- The Doors
- Jim Morrison – lead vocals
- Ray Manzarek – Vox Continental organ, piano, keyboard bass on all the tracks, marxophone only on 'Alabama Song'
- Robby Krieger – guitar, bass overdubs [tracks 2 and 7]
- John Densmore – drums
- Additional musicians
- Larry Knechtel (uncredited) – additional bass guitar on "Twentieth Century Fox", "Light My Fire", "I Looked At You", and "Take It as It Comes"
|Canada Top Albums/CDs (RPM)||15|
|US Billboard 200||2|
|1967||"Break On Through (To the Other Side)"
B-side: "End of the Night"
|1967||"Light My Fire"
B-side: "The Crystal Ship"
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Gold||25,000*|
|Canada (Music Canada)||4× Platinum||400,000^|
|France (SNEP)||3× Platinum||900,000*|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||Platinum||50,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||2× Platinum||600,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||4× Platinum||4,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- Fong-Torres 2006, p. 37.
- Fong-Torres 2006, p. 53.
- Fong-Torres 2006, p. 58.
- Fong-Torres 2006, p. 68.
- Fong-Torres 2006, p. 71.
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- The Story of "Break on Through" by The Doors
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- Puterbaugh, Parke (April 8, 2003). "The Doors by The Doors". Rolling Stone (New York). Archived from the original on August 7, 2011. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
- "The Doors: Album Guide". rollingstone.com. Archived from the original on January 13, 2013. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
- Cinquemani, Sal (April 18, 2007). "The Doors: The Doors | Album Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
- Christgau, Robert (December 20, 1976). "Christgau's Consumer Guide to 1967". The Village Voice (New York). p. 69. Retrieved June 22, 2013.
- Williams, Paul (May 5, 1967). "The Doors Review – Crawdaddy!". thedoors.com. Retrieved August 31, 2015.
- Christgau, Robert (June 1967). "Columns". Esquire. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
- Christgau, Robert (December 1967). "Rock Lyrics Are Poetry (Maybe)". Cheetah. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
- "The Doors". Acclaimed Music. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
- BBC Music review
- "Q Magazine 100 Greatest Albums Ever". Discogs. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
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- "Discos de oro y platino" (in Spanish). Cámara Argentina de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Archived from the original on July 6, 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
- "Austrian album certifications – The Doors – Doors" (in German). IFPI Austria. Enter The Doors in the field Interpret. Enter Doors in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
- "Canadian album certifications – The Doors – The Doors". Music Canada.
- "French album certifications – Doors – The Doors" (in French). InfoDisc. Select DOORS and click OK
- "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (The Doors; 'The Doors (1st Album)')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
- "Italian album certifications – Doors – The Doors" (in Italian). Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana. Select Album e Compilation in the field Sezione. Enter Doors in the field Filtra. Select 2015 in the field Anno. The certification will load automatically
- "Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano: Certificados 1991–1995". Solo Exitos 1959–2002 Ano A Ano. ISBN 8480486392.
- "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (The Doors; 'The Doors')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien.
- "British album certifications – Doors – The Doors". British Phonographic Industry. Enter The Doors in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
- "American album certifications – The Doors – The Doors". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH