The Doors album cover
The Doors

The Doors


The Doors had the instrumentation of a soul-jazz group (organ, guitar, drums), and their bluesy garage rock could swing surprisingly hard, but frontman Jim Morrison’s priapic-poet persona was the key that unlocked it all: his baritone yowl made his lyrics sound better than they were. The band’s debut album is their masterpiece, ranging from the hard-charging opener, “Break On Through (To the Other Side),” to the baroque pop of “Light My Fire” and the theater-kid earnestness of “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar),” and Morrison basically invents white blues-rock singing (Humble Pie, Free, Cactus, et al.) on their version of Willie Dixon’s “Back Door Man.” The nearly 12-minute closer, “The End,” is bafflingly indulgent, but it’s hypnotic, too, and the actual music is brilliant, constantly shifting to follow Morrison’s dramatic exhortations.

Phil Freeman

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