THE DOORS Waiting For The Sun (Elektra)
Controversially, I have to confess that I've never really enjoyed the music of The Doors as much as people tell me I should. There's something about their combination of overblown theatrics, bad poetry and reheated blues riffs that just doesn't appeal to me. But there are two Doors albums that I utterly adore - "L.A. Woman" and the article under discussion here. Originally released in 1968, it finds the band tackling a complete set of self-written songs, the over-indulgence taking a back seat for once in favour of a thrillingly diverse selection of material.
"Hello, I Love You" might only be a thinly disguised rewrite of "All Day And All Night", but its made more shocking by the concept of The Doors playing what amounts to bubblegum pop. "Wintertime Love" cartwheels like Snoopy going ice-skating, whilst "Spanish Caravan" arrives heavily laden with flamenco stylings. They get effectively political on "The Unknown Soldier" and "Five To One" ("Theyve got the guns but we've got the numbers!"), and go all a cappella for "My Wild Love". But the backbone that threads the album together is the sound of a band being almost overcome with their own possibilities, as if they've finally discovered just how good they can be.
As an aside, this new Elektra reissue is an agreeably heavy pressing ("also playable on mono phonographs", the front cover helpfully notes) but doesn't sound fantastic, being compressed and distorted for the most part, on music that deserves rather more care and attention.THE DOORS 30 Years Commemorative Edition (Universal)
"Dance On Fire" is a clumsy collage of interesting contemporary footage (the original Elektra promo clip of "Break On Through", its shocking intensity heightened by the fact that Ray Manzarek appears to be wearing a tie, an appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" wherein the band perform "Light My Fire" in front of a backdrop of uh doors, the banned promo film for "The Unknown Soldier", in which Jim gets tied up and shot, what looks like chocolate sauce gushing from his mouth, "Touch Me" from "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour", the band accompanied by somewhat bemused formally attired string and brass sections) and artless contemporary lash-ups ("L.A. Woman" arrives with 'a new film directed by Ray Manzarek', which adds nothing to the song, and the nebulous concept footage linking tracks). The songs are great, though, and the sound good enough to have you noticing the careful interplay between organ, guitar and percussion in the band's sparse arrangements.
"Live At The Hollywood Bowl" is more fun, and less meddled with, an hour-long film that adequately attempts to capture the pleasures and frustrations of a Doors gig. Morrison stalks the stage like a leather-trousered mantis, the songs flow almost imperceptibly into one another (for example the lengthy opening tumble of "When The Music's Over", "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)" and "Back Door Man"), and there's enough, but not too much, poetry and theatricals spiking proceedings to prevent things from getting too conventional.
"The Soft Parade" is closer in spirit to the scrappy melange of "Dance On Fire". There's some performance footage, a pointless welding of "The Changeling" to archive material from 1967 and 1968, film of the recording session that produced "Wild Child" and some interview footage, during which, on the subject of future developments in music, Morrison sagely predicts "I can predict one person with a lot of tapes and machines", thereby simultaneously launching Eno's career, acid house and techno.
So "30 Years Commemorative Edition" makes for an uneven few hours of viewing, a package that might have proved more useful had it contained "The Doors Are Open", a documentary filmed for British television. But if a sensitively compiled box of tricks, hopefully majoring on bona fide live performances, ever makes it to DVD that would most definitely be one to watch.