The Doors: A Fascinating New West Coast Sound
THE SUGARY surfing nonsense that was so typical of Los Angeles pop music has no place at all in what’s happening there now. Young groups like The Doors have long since overshadowed the shallow repetitive music of the past.
Listen to their album called The Doors (Elektra) and you’ll understand how far pop music has traveled. While still maintaining their blues roots, The Doors (Jim Morrison, vocals; Ray Manzarek, organ, piano and bass; Robby Krieger, guitar; John Densmore, drums) have moved into exciting, complex and fascinating sounds.
Most of the cuts on the album are originals. ‘The End,’ which runs for 11 minutes, 35 seconds, has eastern touches and a mysterious quality. The lyrics are thought-provoking and intensity is built up by both lyrics and music.
Albums like this prove that today’s pop music can be just as weighty and serious as jazz and classical.
COUNTRY JOE AND THE FISH (Vanguard) — This San Francisco group has some weird and freaky material, all of it original. ‘Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine’ is about a girl who gets high on death. Then there’s ‘Porpoise Mouth’ with lines like “I hunger for your porpoise mouth” sung and played like a tender rock ballad. ‘Superbird’ may offend LBJ fans but it’s an outspoken protest song with a country-western flavor. ‘Section 43’ has guitar patterns in it reminiscent of ‘The Moonlight Sonata’.
The group is full of fresh ideas and plays quite well. I particularly enjoyed some of the funky guitar playing. (Thanks to Vanguard, incidentally, for listing who plays and sings what on each song on the back of the album jacket.)
THE BEST OF ERIC BURDON AND THE ANIMALS, VOL. II (MGM) — Eric is one of the few white singers who really does have that emotional intensity that means soul. ‘See See Rider’ and ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’, for instance, bring out that gutsy quality in Eric’s voice. The album is a fine sampling of Eric and the Animals’ solid bluesy style.
HOLD ON, WE’RE COMING by Chuck Jackson and Maxine Brown (Wand) — Speaking of soul, here are two of its leading exponents paired in an album that captures the excitement of a live performance. Cuts like ‘Hold On, I’m Coming’, ‘See See Rider’, and ‘Shake a Tail Feather’ are truly out of sight and you won’t be able to sit still listening to them.
THE NITTY GRITTY DIRT BAND (Liberty) — Wonderfully zany when they perform live, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s fun brand of music is displayed very well on this first album. A great deal of the album has that good-timey, 1920s flavor to it. The spirit with which they whack away at their banjos and sing through a megaphone tells you they’re enjoying themselves thoroughly.
THE HOLLIES GREATEST HITS (Imperial) — The Hollies are constantly moving with a steady rhythmic pace underlying tight harmonies and excellent arrangements. The instrumental breaks in ‘Bus Stop’ are a joy to hear. This album shows why the Hollies are rated one of the best pop groups in the business.
BOB DYLAN’S GREATEST HITS (Columbia) — In the absence of Dylan cutting any new material in a very long time, Columbia has released this collection of Dylan classics like ‘Blowin’ In The Wind’, ‘Mr. Tambourine Man’, and ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’. For those of you who haven’t been buying Dylan albums, this is a good chance to catch up with his best material. Whether you dig him or not, Dylan has been one of the great creative influences on modern pop music.
© Loraine Alterman, Detroit Free Press, 28 May 1967