What does it sound like?:
There’s nothing like an anniversary to get the record companies combing the vaults to see what they can dust off and re-issue. The Doors 50th anniversary prompts this multi format collection, a follow on from an expanded 1st album set issued earlier this year. This set comes as 2 CDs, a 2CD set with a blu ray containing a quad mix of “The Best Of”, and most importantly a limited edition box set of 20 replica 7-inch singles, complete with original B-sides, and cover art. Oh, and a poster.
The 2 CD set features all the A and B sides from the first release in 1967 of “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” through to the singles taken from posthumous releases such as “The Mosquito” (from the album “Full Circle”), “Roadhouse Blues” (the live version included on “An American Prayer”) and “Gloria” (another live cut from “Alive, She Cried”.
The target audience for this kind of release has to be the hardcore Doors fan, and to tempt them to open their wallets the rarities emerging blinking into the re-release sunlight include a number of the original B sides making it to CD for (almost) the first time plus some songs in mono and edited for radio, such as “Light My Fire” and “Unknown Soldier” which were only ever released to radio stations and have never been available since. I say “almost” because in 2013 a limited edition box set of 14 CD singles was issued in Japan, reflecting all the original Japanese 7 inch releases, rare B sides and all. Yours for around $400 now.
Anyway, of the songs making it on to CD for the first time (outside of Japan), the Willie Dixon cover “(You Need Meat) Don’t Go No Further,” – (the B side to “Love Her Madly”, one of my favourite Doors songs), finds the Doors in a more bluesy vein, and is a more rewarding listen than the often discordant “Who Scared You”. Listening to the whole set end to end as you encounter the familiar along with quite a lot that isn’t, particularly on the 2nd CD which has more of the material from The Doors without Morrison / posthumous releases. The only really well-known track missing is “LA Woman”.
The 1971 album “Other Voices” provides the first 4 tracks on CD2, none which I’d heard before. Recorded as a 3 piece, there’s a distinctly familiar Doors vibe to “Tightrope Ride” (from “Other Voices with Manzarek on vocals) whilst “Tell All The People” is a pleasant pop’ish ballad lifted by a horn section. It’s not all gold – “The Mosquito” – reminds me of an outtake from an MFP party album, complete with cod Spanish lyrics and Casio organ, and the closing live cuts of “Roadhouse Blues” and “Gloria” fare less well than the material on the 1st CD.
At £15 the 2 CD and blu ray set is reasonable value. The singles box is clearly a thing of beauty and I love a box set, I really do. But at between £120 to £145 (i.e. £6+ per single) I can’t help but think this is less about being a limited edition (just 10,000 sets it seems) and more about fleecing collectors. I wonder how many will ever be unwrapped and played?
What does it all *mean*?
There’s always another way you can re-package the back catalogue
Goes well with…
Château Lafite-Rothschild 2009 (assuming you have the 20 single box set)
Might suit people who like…
Hardcore Doors fans only I imagine