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The Doors (1967) - The Doors - Everything about the album...

The history of the album and the beginning of the band's ascent...

History of the album "The Doors" (1967)

"The Doors" is the first album of Americans united in the band of the same name. It was published by Elektra at the very beginning of 1967. Recognized as the best album of the group, and indeed collected a number of compositions that are rightfully considered masterpieces. On the initial release of the record - the label "Electra" with the image of a butterfly. Further re-releases of the album in this studio with the same catalog number EKS-47007 in the 1970s came out with red labels.

Creation of the group and the birth of its name

The group was formed after a sudden meeting between Jim Morrison and Ray on Venice Beach in Los Angeles in the summer of 1965. Having received a university education, Morrison lived as a representative of the "golden youth" and practically did not leave this beach. He knew Manzarek before - they studied at the film school of the University of California, and Morrison admitted to a former classmate that he composes songs.

“It’s like playing music from an unrealistic rock concert in my head.”

Manzarek became curious, after which Morrison sang "Moonlight Drive" to him (this composition will become the main one in the group's next album). Shocked Manzarek inspired Morrison to create a group.

The Doors in 1967. Photo: Bobby Klein/Doors Property, LLC/Rhino Entertainment
The Doors in 1967. Photo: Bobby Klein/Doors Property, LLC/Rhino Entertainment

He already had a similar musical experience - in "Rick & the Ravens" - two of his brothers played there - Rick and Jim. The band included drummer John Densmore of The Psychedelic Rangers (Psychedelic Hawks), whom Manzarek knew from teaching meditation training, and bassist Pat Sullivan was later added to the team. With this lineup, on September 2, 1965, they made a trial recording of 6 compositions on an acetate record at the World Pacific studio. Among them were "Moonlight Drive", "My Eyes Have Seen You", "Hello, I Love You", "Go Insane" (later known as "A Little Game" from the suite "Celebration of the Lizard"), "End of the Night" and "Summer's Almost Gone". They only recorded three hours, but Morrison was impressed with his own voice on the recording. Only five copies were published, and one of them belonging to Morrison is preserved by Manzarek. For a long time the recording went in bootlegs, and then the studio decided to include it in the CD "The Doors' box set" in 1997.

There were many attempts to promote this record, but - unsuccessful. After some time, disappointed with the result, the Manzarek brothers - Rick and Jim - left the group, predicting her imminent death. The new line-up included guitarist Robbie Krieger from the same band as Densmore. Sullivan also left the band after Manzarek started playing the bass part on Fender Rhodes keyboards.

It was then that the group began calling themselves "The Doors", a reference to Aldous Huxley's novel The Doors of Perception (1954). And the author himself borrowed it from the lines of the English-speaking poet and artist William Blake. The idea is that when the "doors of perception" are clear, then all objects appear before consciousness in their original form: in infinity.

The Doors. Photo: Joel Brodsky
The Doors. Photo: Joel Brodsky

Special sound and first luck

The group had its own distinctive character and turned out to be quite noticeable among rock groups: they did not have a bass guitar at concert performances. Manzarek played bass parts with his left hand on the newly created Fender Rhodes Piano Bass module for the Fender Rhodes electric piano, while playing all other parts with his right hand. The debut album was recorded without a bassist, despite the fact that later they began to invite third-party musicians. A number of hits "The Doors" was the result of a joint work. Morrison or Krieger wrote the texts and the initial melody, then adjustments were made after a general discussion, the rhythm and melody changed, and sometimes even individual fragments of the composition: in particular, Manzarek with the organ prelude to “Light My Fire” was remembered.

By 1966, the group had finally become "their own", popular and recognized in the Whiskey a Go Go nightclub in the western part of Hollywood, on Sunset Boulevard. He was famous throughout California: The Byrds, Alice Cooper, Buffalo Springfield and Love periodically gave their concerts there. Then Frank Zappa and his "Mothers of Invention" entered into an agreement - it was after one of these club gigs. This famous club glorified Jimi Hendrix and Otis Redding, there were Englishmen - "The Kinks", "The Who", "Cream", "Led Zeppelin", "Roxy Music" and "Oasis".

Jim Morrison of The DOORS in concert at the Hunter College Playhouse on November 24, 1967. Photo: Elliott Landy/Redferns
Jim Morrison of The DOORS in concert at the Hunter College Playhouse on November 24, 1967. Photo: Elliott Landy/Redferns

It was here that The Doors were noticed by the head of the Elektra studio, Jack Holtzman, who attended the concert on the advice of Arthur Lee from the Love group, who collaborated with the Elektra studio. Together with Elektra producer Paul A. Rothschild, he was pleasantly surprised by the level of The Doors, and on August 18, 1966, a contract was signed. It must be admitted that this turned out to be most welcome for the musicians: a couple of days later they were scandalously dismissed from the nightclub. During the last concert, while playing the long composition "The End", Morrison, under the influence of drugs, hoarsely read his own version of the familiar Greek myth about Oedipus, talking about the intricacies of the famous "Oedipus complex", and then cursed loudly and dirty in front of the audience.

Birth of The Doors (1967)

Less than a week later, the musicians recorded their first record in the studio. The recording was actually live, some compositions - literally from the initial take. The first song "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" and the final one - "The End" - were originally released in abbreviated form - for censorship reasons. In the opening composition, Morrison endlessly and monotonously said: “She gets high She gets high She gets high” (Which means: “She's crazy ...”), and in the final of the last song of the album, “fuck” was repeated in the same tedious and monotonous way. In subsequent editions, these moments were accurately reproduced, as they were intended. And before the band had to accept the requirements of censorship, although the musicians still performed "Girl we couldn't get much higher" on the famous television show with Ed Sullivan.

The Doors
The Doors

"Alabama Song" is a composition created by renowned playwright Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weil for their joint opera Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny. "Back Door Man" is a cover of Howlin' Wolfe.

To sell the album, a film clip was made with the opening song, which was released as the single "Break On Through (To the Other Side)". At this stage, a serious foundation was laid for finalizing the video, shot specifically for the music. The next single "Light My Fire" broke records of popularity: it was published in the summer of 1967 and sold out in a million copies, remaining the leader of the Billboard for three whole weeks! After this precedent, the group began to be compared with the most popular representatives of the American counterculture - "The Byrds" and "Jefferson Airplane".

"Doors" in mirrors. Photo: Joel Brodsky
"Doors" in the mirrors. Photo: Joel Brodsky

“Light My Fire” was then shortened for radio broadcast: if the original length of the song was 6:50, then in this version it is 2:52.

The gloomy mood of the album, the gloomy sexuality of leader Jim Morrison, his bohemian lifestyle impressed the Californian public. This rock album is recognized as one of the main ones that stood at the origins of the active protest movement of youth and the development of counterculture. In 1998, Q magazine ranked this album at number 93 on its list of the best of all music history. And "Rolling Stone" in 2003 ranked it at 42nd position among the 500 best.

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