The Doors
The Singles

(Rhino)

And so, just when I thought all hope was lost, what for many years had been the impossible object of my desire suddenly materialized in front of my eyes, and at a cheap price to boot! Or did it? Well, it depends.

By now, longtime Doors fans have learned the true meaning of "distrust", and with good reason. Just think for a moment or two about the whole Matrix imbroglio.

But the hope that a box featuring all the original singles, from the original analogue tapes, could some day appear did not die, even if with the passing of time - we're talking decades now - anybody had good reasons to believe that, if those tapes were still in good shape and the idea could still be financially feasible, such a thing would have appeared by now.

And so, I'll call this double CD "the best possible approximation". Which doesn't mean that there are no "minuses" here, but that the whole enterprise can be approached with a certain degree of "tempered enthusiasm".

Opinions are fatally bound to differ, in parallel to one's familiarity with this material, and one's "degree of attention". Somebody recently told me that the rifle shot featured on the single version of The Unknown Soldier is not the same as the one on the album version. And had I noticed? Well, I hadn't.

Those who'll listen to this material for the first time will have no problems. Those who are somewhat familiar will have to remember that those are the songs the way they appeared on single, and so not necessarily under the same guise they appeared on the albums. So, no asking about what happened to the solos on Light My Fire, please.

First things first. The new re-mastering, by original Doors sound engineer Bruce Botnick, is absolutely fantastic: no compression, no "brickwalling", one can crank this music to "11" and submerge one's neighbors under "chaos & disorder".

The album is available in three formats: as a double CD, as a double CD plus a Blu-ray disk (about which I know absolutely nothing), and - you know the saying that goes: "A fool and his money are soon parted" - as a box of singles, "just like those released in the old days".

"All the group singles" means exactly that: all the singles, including - alas! - those released by the minus-Morrison Doors, off such albums as Other Voices and Full Circle, which I hope I'll never listen to again. The second CD also features some Doors singles taken from their posthumous albums An American Prayer and Alive, She Cried. As bonus tracks, there are four famous songs in their original mono radio version, sounding absolutely spectacular.

At 78', CD 1 features twenty-six tracks - from Break On Through (To The Other Side) to Changeling, the song that originally opened the group's final album - taken from their six studio releases. But the word "taken" is not really accurate, given the fact that more than a few singles were released well before the albums, in a different version. Which at the time made one wonder where that voice at the end of Touch Me saying "Stronger than dirt!" came from. One also noticed that the Monk quote on We Could Be So Good Together, originally played by the organ, now had a vocal added. While the finale on The Unknown Soldier was now more "movie-like".

As was to be expected, given the price, there is no booklet, but such a cheap-looking cover is simply inexcusable. On the plus side, we find the names of some of the featured musicians, also the release dates for both original singles and albums.

One can't help but notice that it's mostly the singles off The Soft Parade - whose original release came months before the album - that have a more "punchy" sound than their album counterparts. It's easy too see that the sound of the songs - from Touch Me/Wild Child to Wishful Sinful/Who Scared You to Tell All The People/Easy Ride - gets progressively more similar to that of The Soft Parade (an album whose recording history is not as simple as the official - and often contrasting - versions want us to believe).

It's interesting to notice how different, and in a way, daring, the group's "B sides" were: Break On Through/End Of The Night, Light My Fire/The Crystal Ship, Hello, I Love You/Love Street.

Funny to think about the way those songs originally "talked to" what was on the radio at the time.

After listening to the first CD for a week or so, I asked myself: What would I like to tell Bruce Botnick? Here it is:

a) the first ten tracks - five mono singles - appear to have just a pinch too much "digital sheen" sprinkled over, like a reverb or something. Which makes them sound less "mysterious" than what I remember, especially when it comes to the songs off the first album;

b) what happened to Wishful Sinful? It just sounds weird. And what about that oboe (okay, it's an English Horn, a fifth lower), now louder than Morrison's vocals? My "original single" is not "the original US single", but any sensible arrangement would try to "mask" those ugly peaks. Which is exactly where my original copy, a "glorious Italian pressing", succeeds.

Beppe Colli


Beppe Colli 2017

CloudsandClocks.net | Sept. 29, 2017