The Doors’ debut album, released exactly 40 years ago, arguably provided the template for postpunk and Goth music of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Frontmen like the Cure’s Robert Smith, Joy Divison’s Ian Curtis, and Echo and the Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch owe a debt to the man who embodied sex, drugs and rock and roll—the Lizard King himself, Jim Morrison. The Doors’ music was such a marked contrast to the sounds and sensibilities of the times. Hippie celebration was not in this group’s vocabulary; the band treated sex or death or both as a release.
All the elements that made the Doors great were perfectly in place: Morrison’s urgent persona, Robby Krieger’s masterful guitar playing, Ray Manzarek’s baroque keyboards, and John Densmore’s jazzy drumming. The fact that a majority of the songs on the debut have endured on FM/classic radio speaks about its popularity and influence: “Break on Through,” “Soul Kitchen,” the Euro-bent of “Alabama Whisky Song,” the glamorous “Twentieth Century Fox,” and the acid-trip of “Crystal Ship.”
The key highlights, naturally, are the two songs that defined the aura of the band. The first is the group’s Number One single, “Light My Fire” (dig the interplay between Manzarek’s and Krieger’s solos). The other is the epic finale, the Oedipal-laced violent drama of “The End”—it still terrifies the soul. In addition to its bonus tracks of “Moonlight Drive” and “Indian Summer,” this newly reissue also restores “Light My Fire” to its original speed where it sounds much brighter than before. The Doors ranks up there with the essential ‘60s classic albums of Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper, and Tommy. Love and darkness never coexisted so eloquently and dangerously than on this record.