After honing their skills at the Whiskey a Go Go and the London Fog, The Doors released their self-titled debut record on this date in 1967. Recorded in six days, the album steadily climbed the Billboard 200, ultimately peaking at #2 and ended up being certified 4x platinum. It was ranked #42 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. Let's take a closer look at one of the best debuts ever.
The albums starts with the band's first single, "Break On Through" which, despite its later success on classic rock radio, only reached #126 in the United States. Covered numerous times, the song is almost as well-known for the edit of the word "high" as it is for the jazz drum groove and disjointed organ solo. A tribute to the soul food restaurant Olivia's in Venice Beach, LA, "Soul Kitchen" had Morrison singing lead and harmony vocals (obviously not at the same time). This is also one of the few times Larry Knetchel played bass, since producer Paul Rothchild felt the song needed it. A love song to Morrison's gilfriend Mary Werbelow, "The Crystal Ship" uses Oriental influences to show mystery and suspense-a common theme in Doors' music. The band goes back to simple rock in "Twentieth Century Fox," where the band actually marched on wooden planks during the chorus.
The first cover off the record is "Alabama Song," where Morrison changed the words to the second verse and keyboardist Ray Manzarek plays the marxophone along with the organ and keyboard bass. Side one ends with the megahit "Light My Fire," which was ranked #35 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Do yourself a favor and listen to the full version, not the radio edit. The only cover is Willie Dixon's "Back Door Man," which opened almost every concert and drummer John Densmore described as "deeply sexual and got everyone moving."
To be quite honest, the album dips a bit with the three next songs. "I Looked At You" recalls similar themes from "Twentieth Century Fox," "End Of The Night" has promise with the guitar solo but falls flat on overall execution, and "Take It As It Comes" has a nice jazz arrangement but draws common sounds from "Light My Fire." The album ends, so to speak, with the opus "The End" that runs nearly 12 minutes, was ranked #336 on Rolling Stone's Greatest Songs list, and usually closed concerts.