It's no surprise that almost three decades after their watery demise, [B]The Doors[/B] - and [B]Jim Morrison[/B], in particular - still inspire love and hate in equal measures.
It’s no surprise that almost three decades after their watery demise, The Doors – and Jim Morrison, in particular – still inspire love and hate in equal measures. Their comparatively brief career might have yielded some of the most powerful and evocative music of the ’60s, but it was also the catalyst for some of the worst atrocities in rock’n’roll history.
The embodiment of the maxim a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, Morrison arrived with his philosophy fully formed – and amazingly, its bodged-together, half-baked hybrid of ancient mythology and romantic derangement was not only enough to blow the minds of a generation of flower children, it’s still enough to freak out European rock fans even to this day. Worse, this cod-intellectualism and the band’s occasionally baroque musicianship arguably opened the door for the ghastly prog excesses of the mid-’70s.
Still, Morrison at least had the good grace to walk it like he slurred it. His confrontational, apolitical hedonism (he once poleaxed an audience in Miami with the words, “I’m not talking about no revolution, I’m not talking about no demonstration, I’m not talking about getting out on the streets, I’m talking about having some fun”) was the inspiration for Iggy Pop and thus punk rock, while his lyrical fixations with sex and disobedience made The Doors a soundtrack to the disintegrating Utopia of the ’60s in a way The Velvet Underground could only dream about.
What’s more, as this box set (the complete studio recordings, a handful of rarities and one unreleased blues travesty called, all too inevitably, ‘Woman Is A Devil’) proves, The Doors were a great [I]band[/I]. Densmore, Krieger and Manzarek might have been the sort of highly trained musos you’d cross the road to avoid, but the power and delicacy of the sound they created is unparalleled. In four years, they produced six albums, of which only 1969’s ‘The Soft Parade’ – with its abundance of Krieger songs and Morecambe & Wise orchestral trimmings – would struggle to be called a classic.
Although emphasis is often put on their elongated spacerock freak-outs (‘The End’, ‘When The Music’s Over’, ‘Riders On The Storm’ and even ‘Light My Fire’), The Doors were more than capable of succinct, melodic pop. ‘Morrison Hotel’, 1970’s underrated album, was entirely devoted to these short, crisper songs, while their three undoubted masterpieces (‘The Doors’, ‘Strange Days’ and ‘LA Woman’) are all liberally sprinkled with examples of this more concise approach, from ‘Break On Through (To The Other Side)’ all the way to ‘Love Her Madly’.
By the time of 1971’s ‘LA Woman’, the band had immersed themselves in the blues tradition they’d been flirting with since their inception. It gave their finale – Morrison was to die a month after its release – a harsh resonance, and the superlative quality of its music gave The Doors the epitaph they deserved: as a great band rather than just an increasingly sad freak show.