The Doors: The Doors – [Record 24]
The Doors: is the debut album by American rock band The Doors, recorded in August 1966 and released in January 1967. It was originally released in different stereo and mono mixes, and features the breakthrough single “Light My Fire”, with three different music videos, extended with an instrumental section mostly omitted on the single release, and the lengthy song “The End” with its Oedipal spoken word section. The Doors credit the success of the album to being able to work the songs out night after night at the Whisky a Go Go and the London Fog. The album has become one of the most influential albums in the progression of psychedelic rock, and remains one of the most prolific and popular albums in all of popular music. The Doors was ranked #42 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. It has sold over 12.5 million copies.
1. Break On Through (To the Other Side).
2. Soul Kitchen.
3. The Crystal Ship.
4. Twentieth Century Fox.
5. Alabama Song (Whisky Bar).
6. Light My Fire.
7. Back Door Man.
8. I Looked at You.
9. End of the Night.
10. Take It as It Comes.
11. The End.
Background: The Doors final line-up was formed in mid-1965 after Ray Manzarek’s two brothers left and Robby Krieger joined. They were initially signed to Columbia Records under a six-month contract, but the band agreed to a release after being unable to secure a producer for the album from Columbia. After being released from the label, the Doors played club venues including the London Fog and Whisky a Go Go until they were signed to Elektra Records by Jac Holzman.
The album was recorded at Sunset Sound Studios in California over six days, with producer Paul Rothchild and audio engineer Bruce Botnick. A four track tape machine was used for recording using mostly three tracks, bass and drums on one, guitar and organ on another with Jim Morrison’s voice on the third. The fourth track was used for overdubbing. During recording of the album session bassist Larry Knechtel was present on some of the songs, while on stage Manzarek used a left-handed keyboard bass. For “The End” and “Light My Fire” two takes were worked of each and cut together to achieve the final song.
Writing and composition: Although composition credit went to the band as a whole, the album’s primary writers were Morrison and Krieger. “The End”‘s Oedipal climax was first performed live at the Whisky a Go Go; the band was thrown out as a result of Morrison screaming “Mother…I want to fuck you!” toward the end of the song. “Alabama Song” was written and composed by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill in 1927, for their opera Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny); “Back Door Man” was written by Willie Dixon and originally recorded by Howlin’ Wolf. The line “Some are born to sweet delight, some are born to endless night” from “End of the Night” is a quote from William Blake’s poem “Auguries of Innocence”.
Speed discrepancy: The 40th anniversary mix of the debut album presents a stereo version of “Light My Fire” in speed-corrected form for the first time. The speed discrepancy (i.e., about 3.5% slow) was brought to Bruce Botnick’s attention by a Brigham Young University professor, who noted that all the video and audio live performances of the Doors performing the song, the sheet music, and the statements of band members show the song in a key almost a half step higher (key of A) than the stereo LP release (key of Ab / G#). Until the 2006 remasters, only the original 45 RPM singles (“Light My Fire” and “Break On Through”) were produced at the correct speed.
Mono version: The mono LP (Elektra EKL-4007) has unique mixes that sound different than the stereo version (EKS-74004). The mono LP version was deleted not long after its original release and remained unavailable until 2010, when it was reissued as a limited edition 180 gram audiophile LP by Rhino Records. This version has never been officially released on compact disc, it is however available for purchase through digital media outlets such as iTunes and Amazon.
Surround releases: The Doors has been released in 2006 in multichannel DVD-Audio, and on September 14, 2011, on hybrid stereo-multichannel Super Audio CD by Warner Japan in their Warner Premium Sound series.
Reception: The Doors made a steady climb up the Billboard 200, ultimately becoming a huge success in the US once “Light My Fire” scaled the charts, with the album peaking at #2 on the chart in September 1967 and going on to achieve multi-platinum status. In Europe, the band would have to wait slightly longer for similar recognition, with “Light My Fire” originally stalling at #49 in the UK singles chart and the album failing to chart at all. However, in 1991, buoyed by the high profile of Oliver Stone’s film The Doors, a reissue of “Light My Fire” reached #7 in the singles chart and the album reached #43. It eventually spent more time on the UK chart than any other Doors studio album.
The album is ranked #42 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and also on “The Rolling Stone Hall of Fame”. It is on Q magazine’s “100 Greatest Albums Ever” and ranked #25 in NME magazine’s list of the “Greatest Albums of All Time”. Piero Scaruffi named The Doors the fifth greatest rock album of all time.
Censorship: Two songs were censored for the album. On “Break On Through”, the repeated line “She gets high” was edited to remove the final word, as it was considered a reference to drug use and Elektra feared radio stations might not play the song. In “The End” the vocal interlude of the final minutes was edited to remove Morrison’s repeated use of the word “fuck”. Most remasters from 1999 onward have the original portions of both songs restored.