The Doors - The Doors: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

by James Gerard Rating:10 Release Date:2017-03-31

Like so many of their contemporaries, The Doors brief existence yielded an incredibly potent collection (six proper studio albums in 5 years) of music whose cultural relevance (at least here in the states) has persevered for decades.  The story is nearly a legend at this point (hell, there’s even that Oliver Stone/Val Kilmer film), but it essentially boils down to this: L.A.-based rock band (keyboardist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger, and drummer John Densmore) pairs up with enigmatic poet (Jim Morrison), creates an incredibly unique and influential body of work before spectacularly imploding beneath the pressure of it all.  And while Morrison’s death in 1971 would prove to be the final nail in the coffin for The Doors, their legend was really just getting started.

What’s perhaps most impressive about The Doors 1967 debut is how fully realized their sound already was, despite having only formed a couple of years before.  From the slithering riff that introduces the album’s opening track “Break on Through” to the unforgettable organ playing on “Light My Fire”, the first half of The Doors plays out like a perfectly executed live set, which of course is exactly where many of these songs were born.

While the album’s back half was less represented with singles (and is thus less familiar), it is every bit as integral as the A-side.  With shorter songs like the grinding “Back Door Man” and the shuffling “I Looked At You” providing momentum as the album careens towards the fittingly titled album closer “The End” (a song where the band really began to embrace the ‘Jim Morrison mysticism’ that would prove to be one of their secret weapons going forward), The Doors is a compelling listen from start to finish.

Production-wise, this album is a near perfect balance of studio polish and the chaotic live energy that the band exuded on stage.  The performances are tight without feeling stiff and Morrison, despite his young age, gives an impressively fully formed performance on song after song.  There’s a feeling of directness on this debut that The Doors would have never again fully embrace.

The Doors is quite simply the Doors at their peak, and the Doors at their peak were a freaking amazing band.  And so while this debut would definitely fall into ‘essential’ listening (It’s in the freaking Library of Congress!) for anyone even remotely interested, this particular 50th anniversary release (a 3-CD package complete complete with a Mono mix?!?) may not necessarily be the best place to start (and is probably best left for completists only), but regardless The Doors: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition is an amazing package; a fitting tribute to one of the best debut records of all time.

Overall Rating (3)

5 out of 5 stars
  • Steve Ricciutti

    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    I've always preferred Morrison Hotel as being the best record the band ever made, but this one has a lot of great stuff. 20th Century Fox and Crystal Ship are other great songs. The concert bit is a nice slice of early stuff, and a nice companion to Absolutely Live, one of my favorite live albums.

  • James Gerard

    In reply to Steve Ricciutti
    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    That's the beauty of the Doors...Strange Days, L.A. Woman and Waiting for the Sun all have their own distinct 'voice'. It's pretty incredible how much ground they covered in such a short period of time. Absolutely Live is killer.

  • Steve Ricciutti

    In reply to James Gerard

    Really great point about the distinctiveness of each album. I hadn't thought of it that way before. It is amazing how they went from fresh young men to a band that sounded like an act five times older than they were by the time LA Woman came out. Morrison crammed a lot of living in a small period.

  • Bob Coyne

    I think their first three albums are untouchable. I spent a whole summer in the late 80s playing those on repeat and wishing I was in 1960s California. I think I was born in the wrong place at the wrong time, would have loved to have lived through this.

  • James Gerard

    In reply to Bob Coyne
    Rated 5 out of 5 stars

    Man..."wrong place at the wrong time", story of my life!

  • Steve Ricciutti

    In reply to James Gerard

    I've always wanted to have been in the UK during the mid 70s. I was entering my adolescence at the time and would've loved to have been a part of the punk scene and maybe even start up a punk band. Where's the damn time machine we were promised!!

  • Bob Coyne

    In reply to Steve Ricciutti

    Well I have vague memories of the 70s as I was very young but I remember seeing punks and being scared stiff of them. The late 80s and early 90s were my era and I'm glad I was there for that. So much happened in such a short space of time.

  • Steve Ricciutti

    In reply to Bob Coyne

    That's the same fear-based memory I have of seeing hippies around when I was a kid. We were brainwashed into thinking that, if we got too close, they'd kidnap us and shoot us up with heroin, turning us into dope fiends. If only.