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The Doors: Doors: Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine

Doug Collette By

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Given his fascination with media, the late Jim Morrison would no doubt be deeply bemused at the irony of the release of a Doors compilation on cd (a dying configuration) due its popularity as a Record Store Day 2014 issue on vinyl lp (the configuration that won't die).

It's no accident that Bruce Harris' original liner notes for Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine have been retained (nor pure expedience either, though there's no indication these tracks have been remastered). The author puts the lead vocalist of the Doors and the rest of the band in the unique perspective they deserve. Harris' observations, in fact, are so acute he virtually forecasts the long- standing legacy of a band that's gone through more revivals than perhaps any other artist of their time (not to mention reissues: this title was the second collection released following Morrison's death).

And as Harris notes so astutely, the music is even more haunting than the ghostly artwork, which is spooky enough in itself, and again, retained from the original issue. The atmosphere proceeds directly from songs like their signature tune "Light My Fire" and the randy blues "Roadhouse Blues" to the noir of "End of the Night." And in this context, it's clear how "Strange Days" and "When the Music's Over," from the band's second album, set the precedent for the Doors' final record and its title track "L.A. Woman."

Selections from all their studio albums avoid live recordings—best heard on The Doors Box Set (Elektra, 1997) and Live in New York (Elektra/Rhino, 2009)-as well as some notable mainstream hits ("Touch Me" and "Hello I Love You"), all of which appear here sequenced for mood and momentum, as in the juxtaposition of "Spanish Caravan" and "Ship of Fools,"(and the unreleased tracks "Who Scared You" and "You Need Meat (Go No Further)," sung by the late Ray Manzarek). The seamless continuity clarifies how little the Doors indulged themselves production-wise and stands as a reminder of producer Paul Rothschild and engineer Bruce Botnick's complementary expertise in capturing, with as much accuracy as insight into the material, the spare sound of the instrumental trio).

The Doors, as Harris states, seemed to come and go like images from a dream, seemingly the same, but markedly and fundamentally altered at crucial junctures of their career, an impression furthered by this two-CD collection. Easy as it is now, as it was at the time of the Miami concert incident that wreaked havoc with their popular acceptance, to dismiss the Morrison's drunken antics, it may be equally plausible to suggest his public mischief may have arisen from his frustration with the way celebrity was undermining poetic leanings of his that gave birth to "Horse Latitudes" or "The WASP (Texas Radio and The Big Beat)."

The danger suggested in songs like "Break On Through" wasn't just that of personal intimacy, but that of challenged preconceptions about what's socially acceptable. Which "The End" confronts via both psychological and instrumental means (Indian drones permeate music even today).The icy glaze of Manzarek's organ (even his harpsichord was creepy) eventually gave way to the glowing warmth of electric piano for "Riders on the Storm," but Robby Krieger's guitar is always earthy as it is cerebral (hard to believe it's the same guitarist on the segue of "Peace Frog"/"Blue Sunday"), while John Densmore was confident enough in his drumming to digress from the heartbeat he kept so well on "Love Street" for fills on "When the Music's Over," that echoed the unpredictable phrasing in Morrison's best singing.

The aspect of mystery within the music of the Doors permeates Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine from its very title inward and is no doubt significant source of the attraction of these songs as they continue to attract, even as some so often repel, in a cyclical pattern that, four decades after initial release, seems to have a life of its own.

Track Listing: CD 1. Break On Through; Strange Days; Shaman’s Blues; Love Street; Peace Frog/Blue Sunday; The Wasp (Texas Radio & The Big Beat); End Of The Night ; Love Her Madly; Spanish Caravan; Ship Of Fools; The Spy; The End CD 2: Take It As It Comes; Running Blue; L.A. Woman; Five To One; Who Scared You; (You Need Meat) Don’t Go No Further; Riders On The Storm; Maggie McGill; Horse Latitudes; When The Music’s Over.

Personnel: Jim Morrison: vocals; Robby Krieger: guitar; Ray Manzarek: keyboards, vocals; John Densmore: drums, percussion.

Title: Doors: Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Elektra Records


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