The Doors: Strange Days – [Record 83]
Strange Days is the second album by American rock band The Doors, released in September 1967. It was a commercial success, initially earning a gold record and reaching #3 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The album also yielded two top 30 hits and eventually a platinum certification. Despite all this, the album’s producer, Paul Rothchild, considered it a commercial failure: “We all thought it was the best album. Significantly, it was also the one with the weakest sales. We were confident it was going to be bigger than anything The Beatles had done. But, there was no single. The record died on us.”
Strange Days consists of songs that were written in 1965–66 but which did not make it onto their debut album, such as “Moonlight Drive,” which was one of the first songs written by Jim Morrison. A demo of the song was recorded in 1965 and a proper studio version was recorded for their debut album but was not used. In 1967, a final version was recorded and released on this album. Strange Days contains some of the Doors’ most psychedelic songs. “Strange Days,” “People Are Strange,” “Love Me Two Times” and “When the Music’s Over” are all considered classics within the Doors’ canon. The album has sold over 9 million copies.
1. Strange Days.
2. You’re Lost Little Girl.
3. Love Me Two Times.
4. Unhappy Girl
5. Horse Latitudes.
6. Moonlight Drive.
7. People Are Strange.
8. My Eyes Have Seen You.
9. I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind.
10. When the Music’s Over.
Reception: Strange Days reached #3 in the US in November 1967, while the Doors’ debut was still sitting in the top ten after nearly a year since its release. “People Are Strange” reached #12 on the US chart, and “Love Me Two Times” followed it, going to #25, thus proving the band’s staying power after the runaway success of their debut. In the UK, they had yet to score a big hit single and Strange Days became one of two Doors studio albums not to chart, despite subsequent strong sales. Music critic Robert Christgau called the album “muscular but misshapen” in a 1968 column for Esquire, but went on to write that the Doors had come “from nowhere to reign as America’s heaviest group.” In 2003, Strange Days ranked at #407 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” In 2007, Rolling Stone included it on their list of the 40 essential albums of 1967 and stated, “the Doors Strange Days finest album exemplifies how pop this famously psychedelic year was.”
Artwork: Unlike all of the band’s other studio albums made with Jim Morrison, the album cover of Strange Days does not feature a group shot of the band, due to Morrison’s refusal to appear on the cover. Instead, Joel Brodsky decided to photograph a group of street performers in New York. The location of the photograph is at Sniffen Court, a residential alley off of East 36th Street between Lexington and Third Avenue in Manhattan. The availability of such performers pictured was low, so Brodsky’s assistant stood in as a juggler while a random cab driver was paid $5 to pose playing the trumpet. Twin dwarfs were hired, with one appearing on the front cover and one appearing on the back cover, which showed another shot of the alley. However, a group shot of the band does appear on a poster in the background of both shots, bearing captions of the band and album name. (The same photograph previously appeared on the back cover of the band’s debut album.) Because of the subtlety of the artist and album title, most record stores put stickers across the cover to help customers identify it more clearly.