Artist: The Doors
Album: Strange Days (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
Release Date: 11.17.2017
Nine months after their first blockbuster release, the eponymous The Doors, Jim Morrison, John Densmore, Robby Krieger and Ray Manzarek released a second record that once again rocked the prevailing foundations of rock and roll, sexuality and the drug-altered brains of a generation. I know. I was one of them.
The circus-freak-show covers of Strange Days (possibly illegal, certainly un-PC today) tucked the back-cover image of their first album into the background of Strange Days, front and back. As with most second albums, the band had written some of the material before their first album hit and wrote others while riding the dizzying waves of success. The title track “Strange Days,” “My Eyes Have Seen You” and “Moonlight Drive” all predated the first album, but I’m betting that “People Are Strange” and “When The Music’s Over” both arose like a phoenix from the insanity and excess that ensued in the months after their first release.
For Strange Days, the band went back to Sunset Sound, the same studio where they recorded The Doors. Rhino has wisely followed a similar path and returned to Strange Days’ original engineer Bruce Botnick to produce the reissue. The music rates a 95, but one might have wished for a little something extra here. Disc 1 has the first remastered CD of Strange Days in 30 years, and Disc 2, according to Rhino, has the original mono mix which has been remastered. (Is that original, or not? Audiophiles, weigh in.) Either way, they both sound excellent, though I prefer the stereo. The LP version has yet another mono mix of the same 10 songs. Even with new liner notes, three versions of one, 10-song album seems sparse to be called “deluxe.”
Ah, but what songs they are! Jim Morrison’s looping “Awwwhhh!” in “When the Music’s Over” remains one of the landmark howls in rock ‘n’ roll, and the creepy “You’re Lost Little Girl” still send shivers up the spine. This is great, groundbreaking music that stands with the best, not just five decades later, but for the foreseeable future.
“We want the world and we want it now!” the band shouts in syncopation. The Doors did get the world, and they held it for a brief time. Then, exploding, they left the remains to us.