Conventional wisdom has it that distance makes the heart grow fonder. Not in the case of the 1960s version of The Verve. The music of the Doors is a thin pastiche: of rock, of showboating tunes, of Jaques Brel, of The Kinks (and all their myriad peers); a keyboard that would sound OK if it didn’t sound so reedy, and a handful of lyrics that never made any sense. No, not poetry. Just stupidity.
Unseasonably jaunty too.
It is difficult to judge whether the Doors ever had any good tunes, subsumed as they are under Morrison’s tin pan alley throwback of a crooner’s schmaltz. One can argue a good many issues around the Lounge Lizard King (his sexism and outright misognyny, for two) but him being a decent singer was never in question.
He doesn’t have a fucking clue.
I come to most of these sides fresh. No prejudice, no matter what cynics may think. My interest is not in the bad, just in filtering through the mountain of pussies just to get to that one sweet cunt (as Nick Cave might have put it). Apologies to anyone offended by that line, I have obviously been under the influence of The Doors for too long.
The album under examination today is The Doors – Singles Box (Japanese Import). It covers the time period between 1967 and 1972. I have no real idea of the context behind any, but it’s the music that counts – right, man?
And the music sucks.
1. Light My Fire
I would have liked to have heard this handled by a born swaggart like Eric Burdon. Images of rain flash through my mind, doubtless planted there decades ago. One of the few decent Doors cuts, but not for the tepid voice which sounds like an American Idol singer imitating a media representation of Jim Morrison. Not for the keyboard, either. Polite rock for polite rock people whose idea of revolution begins and ends with the annual white Glastonbury homage. Makes me wonder: were the Doors the Bay City Rollers of their day? Without the stomp, natch. The B-side is terrible Brel.
2. People Are Strange
“People are strange when you’re a stranger/Faces look ugly when you’re alone…” Oh please fuck off. Some argue that the Doors could make for a half-decent 1960s white boy blues band. Clearly, these people have never heard a half-decent 1960s white boy blues band. The sort of song the Davies brothers would have rejected for being too trite. Bouncy bouncy cheap cheap. Could have sounded great in the hands of David Bowie. We’ll never know now, will we? Mercifully brief.
3. Love Me Two Times
4. The Unknown Soldier
There were billions of bands, literally, doing this sort of whimsical pseudo-serious jerky pastoral cod-psychedelia better at the time. Zillions. The Bee Gees, for example. Petula Clark. All of them were ill-advised but few sounded this dull.
5. Hello, I Love You (Won’t You Tell Me Your Name)
One can hear Them-period Van Morrison belting his way across this, could’ve been a stunner. This is not a stunner, far from it. If J. Morrison ever whaled his winkie onstage, it must’a been flaccid. Embarrassing production, embarrassing performance, all round turd. Mercifully brief.
6. Touch Me
Man, he was no Jagger either, was he? And I ain’t even a fan of Jagger. Hard to tell, but this is another ‘could’a been a contender’ in the hands of a different band, singer, and producer. Nice rhythmic bits, which still sound better when Booker T And The MGs play them. I hate Iggy when he sings operatic, too.
7. Tell All The People
Nice to hear that Spiritualized weren’t the first white boy group to do cultural appropriation. This is like bad music hall-period Beatles (Sgt Pepper’s) without the drugs. And you need the drugs if you want to listen to this arrant nonesense.
8. Runnin’ Blue
Please someone. Just play Doors fans some Eric Burdon. Goes all chirpy again, when it shouldn’t.
9. You Make Me Real
Imagine Jools Holland fronting Wings.
10. Love Her Madly
Ah now, this is the gem that I have waded through a miasma of fuckcrap to uncover… Nah. I’m just yankin’ your chain. Generic 1960s nothing.
11. Riders On The Storm
The one song where Morrison’s vocals are halfway OK, but I still prefer R. Dean Taylor’s Gotta See Jane. I never really forgave the 1960s for this song, tbh. And it takes an age to finish.
12. Tightrope Ride
More mediocre blues.
13. Get Up And Dance
The sort of shit The Kinks and McCartney sometimes released in the 1980s, except by that point both acts had already released like, literally, one and a half billion great singles. Probably Morrison’s greatest vocal performance nonetheless.*
14. The Mosquito
Oh my fucking sainted Aunt. Do not listen to this one.
*Yes. I know he was dead by this point.