Coming after the powerhouse one-two punch that was their debut album and the sublime Strange Days, the Doors’ third offering, Waiting For The Sun, was slammed by many critics as “bubblegum pop.”
Which in retrospect was ridiculous. Any album which has Jim Morrison shouting about a “Dead president’s corpse in the driver’s car” and heading “East to meet the Czar” promises much more of a darkly magical ride than anything, say, the likes of Ed Sheeran has to offer.
And by the time the fiercely hypnotic “Five To One” closes the album, it feels a world apart from the breezy and bouncy “Hello, I Love You,” the number one which opens the long-player and gave the Doors a brand new audience of teenyboppers which the old “heads” didn’t really approve of.
Fifty years later and Waiting For The Sun is available once again in a deluxe package that will no doubt open up the dark and exhilarating world of The Doors to a new set of fans.
As for the old-timers, here’s the news, there’s a lot here which makes the great even greater.
“Hello, I Love You” remains the sound of The Doors at their most care-free and optimistic. Or as Morrison would have it, “The sun rising or something like that. Pure unbounded joy.”
The song about chatting up a passing beauty on Venice Beach effortlessly segues into the la, la of “Love Street.” Morrison’s heartfelt ode to Pamela Courson and masterpiece of resigned melancholy is then turned on its head by the untouchable “Not To Touch The Earth.”
Morrison originally wanted his epic poem “The Celebration Of The Lizard” to take up a large chunk of the album. The other Doors disagreed and “Not To Touch The Earth” was the only thing salvaged from that lyrical and musical mesh of feverish vision.
Five decades on and “Not To Touch The Earth” still kicks like a mule and punches like prime time Ali.
If this song was a movie, it would be a road trip where the protagonists bust out of Heaven in a suped-up vintage Chevy and storm the gates of Hell just to kidnap Satan and take him back to the world to show him just how crazy it all was. It’s seriously that good. What it all means though is anybody’s guess.
It obviously meant a lot to Morrison. Apparently, he played this song on repeat in his Paris apartment for hours prior to the fatal OD.
It’s difficult to match the might and majesty of “Not To Touch The Earth” but “The Unknown Soldier,” “Spanish Caravan,” “Yes,” “The River Knows” and of course, “Five To One” all come up trumps on an album as languid and soft as a Californian sunset.
And now let’s have a peek at the extras. For your dollar, you get nine rough mixes and five live Copenhagen tracks from the 1968 European tour. This includes a non-album song in the shape of “The Wasp (Texas Radio And The Big Beat).”
According to Classic Rock, Doors engineer Bruce Botnick has gone on record as saying, “I prefer some of these mixes as they represent all of the elements and additional background vocals, and some intangible roughness, all quite attractive and refreshing.”
Have a listen and chances are you’ll agree. The Doors never did a bad album and this deluxe package of Waiting For The Sun is well worth waiting for.