The Doors - Strange Days 50th Anniversary Edition

by Kevin Orton Rating:8 Release Date:2017-11-17
The Doors - Strange Days 50th Anniversary Edition
The Doors - Strange Days 50th Anniversary Edition

I don’t trust anyone who doesn't like the Doors. Without a doubt, they were one of the most strikingly original bands of their era. Oh, let’s just face it, of any era. John Densmore’s jazz influenced drumming. Ray Manzarek’s churning organ. And while, Robbie Krieger was content to let others take the brunt of the spotlight, his skills as a guitarist and songwriter are not to be overlooked. Then of course, there was the Lizard King. Sure, he was pretentious, but pretension never looked and sounded so good.

It’s now the 50th Anniversary of their second studio album, Strange Days. Despite the chipper little person on the cover, it remains one of their darker albums. It's a sound that could be characterized as tripped out and more than a little queasy. I confess, I’ve also long regarded it as one of their weakest efforts. So, I suppose a 50th Anniversary is good cause for a reassessment. The opening title cut, still sounds eerie and unsettling. ‘You’re Lost Little Girl’ is oft omitted from any Greatest Hits comps, but is truly, a deep cut for connoisseurs. To these ears it remains one of their more beautiful and haunting ballads. The Bluesy ‘Love Me Two Times’ by contrast, is a classic. A potent mix of guttural lust and Haight-Ashbury Psychedelica. The Doors at their finest.

‘Unhappy Girl’ is another oft overlooked Doors track, possibly due to the fact its hard to distinguish it from the album's general malaise of wobbly, seasick sounds. ‘Horse Latitudes’ follows and is a ferocious, atmospheric spoken word piece hinting at Morrison’s literary aspirations. Tracks like this could be considered an indulgence, and if an indulgence, it’s a mercifully brief one. I’ve always found it hair raising. Morrison playing the mad preacher to the hilt. 

‘Moonlight Drive’ has always been a favorite of mine. Far from their deepest lyric, it’s one of the album’s most lighthearted moments. Krieger, delivering a woozy guitar solo that gives contemporaries like Keith Richards a run for their money. Manzarek switching from organ to sleazy barrel house piano. Morrison luring you in with a seductive croon before erupting in a bestial growl.

 ‘People Are Strange’ is the quintessential Doors song. A dark mix of cabaret and otherworldly Blues. ‘My Eyes Have Seen You’ however, has been one of those songs I’ve wrongly blown off. A positively killer riff from Krieger, and Morrison doom saying about, “television skies”, it remains the Doors at their most haunting. The stoner ballad, ‘I Can’t See Your Face In My Mind’ however, is cut from the same cloth as 'Unhappy Girl' and likewise tends to get buried by Strange Days' pervasive use of dizzy atmospherics.

The rest of the album is dedicated to, ‘When The Music’s Over’. If it lacks the ambitions of other opuses such as ‘The End’ or ‘The Soft Parade’ it’s nearly as lengthy. Lyrically, its middling fare. Musically, not a bad cut but self-consciously drawn out. One gets the feeling they ran out of material to record. Back in the day, it was the kind of extended jam to drop a tab or light a spliff to.

It may have been 50 years since we've seen the likes of Strange Days but I have to say, they've never sounded better. Of course, this is far from the first reissue. The record industry is continuously reissuing classic albums and let's face it, it's a tiresome and redundant marketing ploy. It all goes to show the freewheeling and pioneering days of labels like Electra are long gone. Without them, we’d never have acts like Tim Buckley, Love or The Stooges. Not to mention, the Doors.

Overall Rating (2)

5 out of 5 stars