The Doors: The Doors 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Rhino)
The Doors self-titled 1967 album was among the most remarkable debuts in rock history, setting a standard the band only reached once again—on their second album. Marking the half-century since its release, the 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is a package whose hard-bound cover encompasses a CD with the stereo mix of the album, the mono mix on vinyl LP, a third disc recorded live at a Los Angeles club and liner notes by Rolling Stones’ David Fricke illustrated by rarely seen band photographs.
At the heart of all the fuss are the music, which remains impressive, and the lyrics, which placed The Doors in the lineage of LA noir writers such as Nathaniel West and Raymond Chandler. A nocturnal setting runs from song to song, starting with the day-night metaphysics of “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” and continuing through the Oedipal nightmare of “The End.” The lyrics promise one journey after another—through ecstasy to “the other side,” to “the next whisky bar” in their Weimar carnival rendition of the Weill-Brecht “Alabama Song,” to realms of “sweet delight” in “End of the Night,” to escape “from reasons why” in “The Crystal Ship.”
The psychedelic overtones of the music were less important than the tension liable to explode into frenzy in Jim Morrison’s voice or the deconstructed Bach of organist Ray Manzarek. Unlike so much music of its time and place, The Doors’ debut largely transcends the era and remains fully meaningful half a century on.