In the late 1960’s, the “British Invasion” of rock was in full swing, thanks to bands like The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and The Who. But one band was poised to remind us that rock n roll was an American invention: The Doors. Named for The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley, their lead singer had a brief life. Nevertheless, they made a lasting impact on rock for years to come, influencing such bands as The Cure, New Order, Pearl Jam, and more. They released a total of 9 albums, 4 of which are considered among the greatest albums of all time. In this edition of Jason’s Jukebox, I will rank all 9 albums.
The members are:
- Jim Morrison–lead vocals, harmonica, percussion
- Ray Manzarek–organ
- Robby Krieger–lead guitar
- John Densmore–drums and percussion
1) The Doors (1967) *****
Singles: “Light My Fire”, “Break On Through (To the Other Side)”
This is an excellent start for the quartet. I consider it one of the best debuts I’ve ever listened to. It’s a great mix of blues and psychedelic rock, and shows you everything you should expect from the band.
Best tracks: “Break on Through (To the Other Side)”, “Twentieth Century Fox”, “Alabama Bar (Whisky Bar)”, “Light My Fire”, “The End”
2) Strange Days (1967) ****
Singles: “Love Me Two Times”, “People Are Strange”
Recorded during tour breaks this was one of the first albums to use an 8-track recorder. It was the first album to transpose one of Morrison’s poems to music.
Best tracks: “Strange Days”, “Horse Latitudes”, “Moonlight Drive”, “People Are Strange”, “When the Music’s Over”
3) Waiting For the Sun (1968)**
Single: “Hello I Love You”
By this time, the Doors had exhausted Jim’s first songbook. I have to agree with the general consensus about this album. While it wasn’t bad, it’s not great either.
Best tracks: “Hello, I Love You”, “Love Street”, “Summer’s Almost Gone”
4) The Soft Parade (1969) **
Singles: “Touch Me” , “Wishful Sinful”, “Tell All the People”, “Running Blue”
Out of all the albums recorded while Morrison was still alive, this is the one that has the least input from him. At this time, Morrison’s drinking had begun its effects, and he actually considered quitting the band. Ray was able to convince him to stay. This is the worst of their discography.
Best Tracks: “Wishful Sinful”, “Easy Ride”, “The Soft Parade”
5) Morrison Hotel (1970) *****
Single: “Roadhouse Blues”
This album was recorded after Morrison was charged with indecent exposure in Florida, sparking the infamous “March For Decency.” As a result, 25 dates were cancelled, and the band was blacklisted from radio. Morrison wanted to downplay his “Lizard King” persona. The album is a return to the blues-influenced sound of the first 3 albums.
Best Tracks: “Roadhouse Blues”, “Peace Frog”, “Ship of Fools”, “Queen of the Highway”, “Indian Summer”
6) LA Woman (1971) *****
Singles: “Love Her Madly” , “Riders on the Storm”, “LA Woman”
This album became Jim Morrison’s swan song, although the band would go on to record three more albums without him By this time, Morrison had become more dissatisfied with the band, and refused to attend rehearsals. Even so, this is an excellent exit for Morrison.
Best tracks: “Love Her Madly”, “Cars Hiss By My Window”, “Crawling King Snake”, “Riders on the Storm”
7) Other Voices (1972) *1/2
Ray Manzarek took over as lead singer after Jim’s death, and Robby became the chief songwriter. While he’s not a bad vocalist, he’s not a good replacement.
Best tracks: “In the Eye of the Sun”, “Ships With Sails”
8. Full Circle (1972) *
This was the grand finale for the band. I didn’t like this album. It’s just not the same without Jim.
9. An American Prayer (1978) * 1/2
For the final outing, the Doors took one of Morrison’s poetry books and set it to music. It’s a different approach, but I like the idea. My main problem is that the music overpowers the vocals.
Here’s my ranking:
9) Full Circle
8) An American Prayer
7) Other Voices
6) Soft Parade
5) Waiting For the Sun
4) Strange Days
3) Morrison Hotel
2) The Doors
1) LA Woman
2 thoughts on “Jason’s Jukebox: The Doors”
Great overview, Jason! I generally agree with your rankings; I’d have switched one or two albums around, but, more or less, I see eye to eye with you here. One small nit I have to pick, though–while Aldous Huxley’s book “The Doors of Perception” would have been on the band’s mind when they picked that name, I’m SURE both Jim AND Ray, if not Robbie and John too, would have been aware that Huxley was quoting a line from the poet William Blake: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.” You can bet Jim Morrison knew that was Blake, not Huxley–and as a longtime Blake scholar myself, I have to mention it.
I don’t mind you being that guy. 😉