Strange Days

The Doors

Elektra Records, 1967

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The Doors have remained an enigma to me, despite over 10 years in the field of reviewing music. You either get them, or you don't... and those who do get Jim Morrison usually look upon people like me (who don't get it) with disdain.

Maybe that's why it's taken me almost a year to do another Doors review -- but I guess I've dodged doing one for so long. But thanks to a VH-1 special on The Doors, I was inspired to dig out their second album Strange Days for another listen. And, whether you get Morrison or not, this actually is a very good album.

Following the breakthrough success of their self-titled album, and the smash hit "Light My Fire," Morrison and crew retreated back into the studio to continue the magic. Looking back on the album today, the two hits stand out the most. "Love Me Two Times" is one of the best blues/rock fusions I've heard, and a song I have enjoyed for some time. Robby Krieger's guitar provides a powerful anchor to this song, though it is Ray Manzarek's keyboards that stand out the most. Morrison's vocal prowess is clearly demonstrated here -- going from a plaintive moan to a banshee wail, he showed why he was considered one of the most powerful vocalists in rock and roll.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The other hit, "People Are Strange," is almost the anti-hit. In one sense, it was the first true success of Morrison's poetry -- it was, after all, a sudden jump from "Come on, baby, light my fire" to "People are strange when you're a stranger." Why it was as successful as it was I am at a loss to explain -- maybe it was the brutal honesty of the track, maybe it was the interplay between Manzarek and Krieger. Whatever the case, the track works.

But when Morrison the poet is unleashed, it can occasionally be an ugly thing. The anger behind the words on "Horse Latitudes" almost was a forbearer of what would eventually happen in Miami -- prior to exposing his johnson on stage, Morrison taunted the crowd with verbal abuse in a manner not unlike the delivery of the vocal track here. It's scary -- and it's a ninety-second waste.

"When The Music's Over" could have been a monstrosity at eleven minutes -- but the chemical (take that how you want) magic between the four bandmates makes this track happen -- and suddenly, eleven minutes doesn't seem like that long a time span.

The bulk of Strange Days that remains may be filler, but some of the efforts are quite good. "Moonlight Drive," complete with barrelhouse piano and John Densmore's drum fills, could have been an off-the-cuff hit coming off of "People Are Strange" -- pity it wasn't released that way. "You're Lost Little Girl" is also an interesting picture into Morrison's psyche, one of two "down" songs about women (the other, "Unhappy Girl," isn't as good). And "My Eyes Have Seen You" has a raucous power that betrays its length; it could well rank among some of the best music The Doors ever recorded.

Strange Days, like many of The Doors' albums, is an occasionally bizarre trip that will yield mixed results, but it is an enjoyable one most of the time, and is an album that's worth adding to your own private archives.

Rating: B

User Rating: B+


Strange Days is The Doors' masterwork. "Unhappy Girl" is a breathtaking song--medieval organ and Krieger's slide guitar combined with Jim's singing create an incredible effect--"overwhelming," according to the original Rolling Stone review. The title cut is also great. There is no filler on this album, allowing deference to some folks who say "When the Music's Over" has its banal moments. But a lot of it is really cool and amusing.

© 1997 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.