The Doors
The Best of the Doors
(Elektra EQ-5305)

I think Illusion Master thought he was dealing me a real zinger with The Best of the Doors as a Hot Potato. Certainly he was remembering the boy in the foster home where we were raised who would play the Doors endlessly each morning, ensuring we'd all wake up to the mellifluous tones of Ray Manzarak's many 10-hour organ solos.

Granted, for many years the sound of the Doors would cause me to reflexively tense up in expectation of being yanked out of bed by my hair, as our foster father would be so kind as to do seven days a week. But time has healed those old scars, for the most part, and in recent years I've been able to hear the Doors with no real trouble, although I can't say it's ever with any enthusiasm.

And that's really more about the shittiness of the music than any of my "character-building" experiences as a wayward juvenile ward of the state. The Doors, simply, suck, there's no two ways about it. Jim Morrison was an astonishingly bad singer and a worse lyricist, and his band could have used some pointers from John Fogerty (an outsider in the 60s rock scene whose success was hard-earned and who deserves a hell of a lot more respect than the bloated trainwreck who called himself the Lizard King).

CCR, at least, stayed tight, even when they were barking up the wrong tree with a ten-minute "blues workout." Not so the Doors, who brought on the blight of the jam band almost as much as the Grateful Dead.

The Master undoubtedly hoped I'd have to sit through the two-CD Best of the Doors that came out in the 80s, and that would have been a trial, for sure. But I did a little poking around and discovered that the orginal Best of the Doors, from 1973, was a single LP with only eleven songs, so I was confident my constitution could withstand the shorter version.

To boot, I found a Quad copy of the album! That's like finding a quadripalegic version of Mary-Kate Olsen.

Actually, no it's not, not at all, but I had to go for the joke. Incidentally, I didn't listen to the album on a quadrophonic sound system, so the effect was lost on me … like trying to indulge a foot fetish with a quadripalegic Mary-Kate Olsen.

Side One starts things off on a weird note, with a live version of "Who Do You Love" … perhaps to reinforce the idea that the Doors were a great blues-rock band. They weren't. I wonder if they included it by mistake … it doesn't actually get you hopped up to hear the Doors, and at seven minutes long, it's like beginning your marriage proposal with the Gettysburg Address (which only makes sense if you're a Lincoln impersonator dating a Mary Todd Lincoln impersonator, or alternately, a Stephen Douglas impersonator trying to get some Mary Todd Lincoln impersonator ass).

"Soul Kitchen" sounds remarkably like Cracker, which I mean not as a compliment nor insult – if I have to listen to this song, I prefer the live version by the Knack with Ray Manzarak on keys … though "prefer" is probably not the word I want … "tolerate" is more like it. "People Are Strange" is pretty good; you can't really go wrong with a saloon-style tack piano … although Morrison is overdubbed so many times it comes off kind of like a drunken pub singalong.

"Riders on the Storm" is undeniably great: dark, moody, simmering, and with plenty of thunderstorm sounds. The best way to listen to it, aside from using it along with some strong weed to facilitate guaranteed sex with a burgeoning suburban high school hippie girl at the outset of her "rebellious phase," is to concentrate on the whispered vocals, which sit on top of every line in the song. It's not as soft and erotic as the hippie girl scenario, but it's a good deal funnier.

Side Two kicks off with "Touch Me," surely my favorite Doors song, and one of the only Doors songs I think is awesome. I think the song succeeds because it sounds extremely like a Christmas song, with the gigantic horn section and lilting harpsichord. In one of my old bands, we used to play the big-buildup intro to this song leading up to "Come on, come on, come on, come on now" … and instead of releasing into "TOUCH ME, baby", we'd simply go back into the intro, repeating this for a couple of minutes. It irritated the hell out of people, but not me!

"Love Her Madly," that's another good one – more tack piano, some really nice guitar lines, and excellent pop drumming. Brilliantly tight song, though I could do without the fucking organ solo.

"Love Me Two Times" … yawn. Maybe it would be more interesting if it were retooled as a song about multiplication.

"Take it as it Comes" is an odd choice, one of the least familiar album tracks they could have included. It's off the first Doors album, and it's pretty cool 60s drone-o-rock … wouldn't mind hearing Belle & Sebastian do it.

"Moonlight Drive," yucko. "Light My Fire," double yucko. That one has to be one of the most overrated songs ever. Bad poetry, grating arrangement, and wastefully long. Manzarak really ought to have had his hands crushed while doing that fucking organ solo. I'm not sure I could enjoy this song if it were edited down to four seconds.

Hm, I've written a shitload more about this album than I expected to. Not a bad record, by any means, but not one I will choose to relive any time soon … as with the whole foster home experience.

Review by La Fée