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The Essential Boomer Album Collection - Part 4

The Doors (1967)

Was there ever a debut album as brilliant as the Doors?

Recorded in the summer of 1966, released in January of 1967 and on almost every rock radio station and Baby Boomer’s turntable during the “Summer of Love,” the album spawned the monster hit “Light My Fire” and helped reshape the parameters of rock radio, killing the 45 single and paving the way for longer album cuts to finally start getting airplay.

There is not one wasted track on the album. Side 1 open with “Break on Through,” establishing the album’s goal. The energy continues unabated through the appropriately-titled last track, “The End.”

Here’s the complete track listing:

  1. Break on Through (To the Other Side)
  2. Soul Kitchen
  3. The Crystal Ship
  4. 20th Century Fox
  5. Alabama Song (Whiskey 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

 “Light My Fire” would forever change the face of rock radio. As kids jammed their favorite Top40 AM stations with request for “The Long Version,” many of the stations complied. The era of the 2;30 single was over. FM radio and the album cut was right around the corner.

The Doors had come together in 1965 with Ray Manzarek on keyboard, John Densmore on drums, Jim Morrison on vocals and Robbie Krieger on guitar. The band was unusual in that they had no bass player.  (Larry Knechtel provided bass in the studio for several tracks on the album.) Krieger was also something of a novice, having taken up the guitar only 6 months before joining the band.

After playing around the Los Angeles area, the group was signed to Columbia Records. But none of Columbia’s producers wanted to make an album with the group, so they were dropped by the label without recording a single note.

After a couple of months as house band at the Whiskey A Go Go, Elektra Records signed them and Paul Rothchild agreed to produce their first album.

The record took only 6 days to record. The group says it was mostly recorded with the band playing together in a “live” type situation. Morrison actually overdubbed very few of the final LP’s vocals. Yes, Jim was on acid when he recorded “The End.” And he did improvise some of his patter. The group actually recorded two takes of the song and cut them together to create the final version.

Although songwriting credits went to the entire group (at Morrison’s insistence), the majority of the songs came from Morrison or Krieger.

If you buy the re-mastered CD today, you’ll be surprised at the difference in two of the tracks. The lyrics to “Break on Through” had been censored on the vinyl album. Morrison sang “She gets high!” But when the record hit the stores, he was only singing “She gets…” The original version of his vocals has been restored.

There’s also quite a few more yelps, grunt, and what-have-you in Morrison’s performance on “The End.”

The album took the Doors from zero to supertstardom and remains the best album in their catalog.

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