Strange Days (50th Anniversary Edition)
by David Chiu
Photo: By Elektra Records-Joel Brodsky (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
When you record an outstanding and hugely successful debut record, the follow-up is usually a daunting task. That’s what the Doors faced with their sophomore effort in Strange Days, released in 1967, several months after their self-titled first album. It may not have had the visceral musical and lyrical impact of The Doors, but Strange Days still represented something powerful and dangerous in its psychedelic rock. Its most famous songs include the ominous title song; the whimsical ditties “People Are Strange” and “Love Me Two Times,” and the epic “When the Music’s Over,” echoing “The End”’s quiet-loud dynamic. Strange Days’ album tracks are a continuation of Morrison’s poetry and charismatic singing that explores the dark underside of the era of peace and love: the melancholic yet romantic “You’re Lost Little Girl and “Unhappy Girl”, the haunting “Moonlight Mile” (which features some stirring guitar by Robby Krieger) and the Latin-tinged boogie of “My Eyes Have Seen You,” one of the showcases of the exquisite and complex musicianship by keyboardist Ray Manzarek and drummer John Densmore. The most disturbing track is the spoken word “Horse Latitudes” that vividly and turbulently describes a ship throwing off its horses to lighten its load. Even the aforementioned “When the Music’s Over” is prescient in being one of the first songs to carry a pro-environmental message when Morrison says “What have they done to Earth?” The 50th anniversary of Strange Days features the album both in stereo and mono, the latter that was originally meant to be heard in that format. Strange Days may not have the oomph and thrust of the band’s classic debut, yet it still stands the test of time as a worthy record in its own right five decades later.