The Doors were one of those really great rock bands -- they flared up briefly, shone brightly, and then died away with the untimely death of their frontman, Jim Morrison. And listening to their debut album, it's easy to see why people still listen -- hard-hitting, swirling bluesy-rock songs, with sensual vocals in the middle.
It opens with gritty riffs and a rippling organ, forming a catchy, dark melody that seems to be full of urgency. And the song Morrison sings is full of emotion, ranging from affection to a haunted paranoia. "I found an island in your arms/Country in your eyes/Arms that chain us/Eyes that lie/Break on through to the other side!" he sings smoothly.
The songs that follow are in the same musical mold, but they try out different combos -- jazzy rock with mellotron, plaintive raw rockers, a delicately soaring mythic ballad, rough bluesy rock with a twangy edge, and the howling, impassioned "Back Door Man."
It also contains two of their most famous songs: the legendary "Light My Fire," a shimmeringly catchy little single. And it finishes up with the legendary "The End," a sort of eerie symbolic journey-song with an Oedipal twist. "Ride the snake, ride the snake/To the lake, the ancient lake, baby/The snake is long, seven miles/Ride the snake...hes old, and his skin is cold..."
This isn't the Doors' most polished work, but it's definitely their most passionate -- you can hear in Morrison's voice, and in the blasting-out instrumentation. These guys were just starting their musical journey, and they were full of enthusiasm and musical inspiration.
And that musical inspiration shines in these melodies, whether it's raw grimy stuff influenced by the blues, or some more polished, danceable songs. Robby Krieger twisted some amazing riffs into shape, and John Densmore providedthe drums. And Ray Manzarek deserves special attention for those brilliant rippling keyboards, including the famous organ intro.
But what makes it beyond great? That would be Morrison. His cryptic songs are full of mythic allusions, sexual hints, giant snakes, dusty highways, and nameless women. And his smooth voice can change from a croon to a howl to a chant at a moment's notice.
"The Doors" show off the Doors at the start of their public career, overflowing with musical skills and energy. Definitely a must-listen for classic rock fans.