Spare a thought for the Doors fan who has already spent time with 13, Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine, The Best of the Doors (1973), Greatest Hits, The Best of the Doors (1985), Classics, The Doors (Original Soundtrack Recording), The Doors Box Set, The Best of the Doors (2000), The Very Best of the Doors, Legacy: The Absolute Best, Love/Death/Travel, Scattered Sun, and The Platinum Collection. You could forgive such a person for regarding a new Doors compilation with suspicion, if not hostility. Again the Lizard King is passing the hat? Now he wants a swimming pool for his celestial mansion, I suppose?
But The Singles is a welcome addition to the Doors catalog, especially because of its mono and quad content. The mono tracks walk up to you, poke you in the chest and box your ears. It is startling, for instance, to hear “Hello, I Love You” in its radio version, so mixed as to sound kickass on a 1968 clock radio or the fillings in your teeth. Something unwholesome has been restored to it, and when it ends, I expect to hear “Double Shot (Of My Baby’s Love)” or “Louie Louie.”
Disc two presents the five singles the Doors released after Jim died, making this the first collection to acknowledge the Other Voices and Full Circle years, a period other retrospectives pass over in embarrassed silence (cf. the Clash, Cut the Crap). While I doubt the appearance of “Treetrunk” on CD will bring anyone to orgasm, it is interesting to hear “Tightrope Ride,” “Ships w/ Sails” and the rest of the trio’s 45s in the same sequence as “Roadhouse Blues,” “Riders On The Storm” and the other FM evergreens (though not “L.A. Woman,” an album cut).
Thirty-five minutes of post-Jim Doors is a lot of time to reflect. Why should it be the case that some qualities are pleasing in the human voice, and others less so? The songs are pretty good, even—Densmore’s “The Piano Bird” is class all the way—but again and again, there’s that disorienting shift in lyrical perspective. “The year 2000 is the cutoff point,” Ray warns mysteriously on one song. “It wouldn’t matter but it’s time to meditate,” Robby sings on another. Huh?
Balancing the contraction of the mono material is the expansion of the The Best of the Doors (1973), here on Blu-ray in its original Quadradisc mix. For all the 40th anniversary surround mixes’ fine points, some of their novel presentations lacked the immediacy and clarity of the originals. While the placement of instruments in the quad mix may be crude at times, it deserves credit for enlarging the hits without fucking around with them so much.
The Quadradisc opens with the monstrous “Who Do You Love?” that starts Absolutely Live. At “Somebody scream!” a lone WAUUUUUGH! erupts from the right back channel. Too, Jim’s ghost whispers in your ear during “Riders On The Storm.” Heavy! But the best way to have fun with this Blu-ray is to walk around among the four channels of “Hello, I Love You” as if you were at a freshman mixer. You pay a visit to the fuzz guitar for a minute, and then you go check in on the keys, see how their summer was. Mingle.