The Best of the Doors [1985] by The Doors (Cassette, Nov-1985, Elektra (Label))

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THE BEST OF THE DOORS a double CD filled with the bandís very finest

Jul 16, 2012 (Updated Jul 17, 2012)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:All of their hits, most of their great songs all in one package

Cons:Some singles aren’t included, actually in this case, that’s not a ‘con’ at all

The Bottom Line: We want the world and we want it now.


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Back in the late 1960s, The Doors were a major force on the rock scene. The band had created a new kind of sound, possibly by accident as the four members were influenced by different musical styles coming together within one unit. You had the classically trained Ray Manzarek on piano and keyboards, the jazz drummer with John Densmore, Robbie Krieger is a guitarist heavily influenced by the flamenco styles, and Jim Morrison, a baritone who was also a poet who enjoyed presenting his words in a big dramatic fashion. Unfortunately, their light would dim forever in only a short four years, as frontman Morrison would fall to the Rock curse of 27. That is the age of 27 when most of the rock stars die, even today in the 21stcentury. In the early to mid 70s, the trio remaining still made music without Jim, but this too fell by the wayside. In 1979, the iconic film Apocalypse Now was released and using one of The Doors most infamously celebrated songs, The End in the film, and it rekindled an interest in the band. Suddenly, even though music was changing from classic rock to punk and New Wave, we can see The Doors on the covers of magazines again. Somehow, The Doors were in fashion despite the new trends, and they never really went out of style after this. In 1985, The Best of The Doors was released, and it sold like hotcakes, and it never stopped. In 2007, the Record Industry Association of America certified the double album Diamond, which symbolizes 10 million unites sold in the US alone.

The Doors have released many ‘best of’ compilations, the earliest in 1970 while Jim Morrison was still alive. None of them had sold very well until their fourth compilation, Greatest Hits, released in 1980, the album capitalized off of the Apocalypse Now movie. Their best seller was this release, aptly titled The Best of The Doors, released in 1985. Unlike all of its predecessors, this album wasn’t about rare live versions, unreleased tracks or the inclusion of some lesser known tracks. The Doors have enough truly great material to fill up this double CD (and more) with their biggest hits and most of the classic well-known songs. The compilation is for the most part, chronological, and it begins with their first single Break on Through. The song is set to a bossa nova drumbeat, an organ which also supplies the bass part and a wicked guitar riff. The song was written around a poem Morrison had written about a cosmic adventure and indulging in the available excesses. It’s one of the first edits ever in rock and roll, in fact, it wasn’t until the later releases in 2000 and beyond that the uncut version can finally be experienced. The song is one of the band’s heaviest numbers. Light My Fire comes in next, possibly the band’s most iconic song; it’s a very commercial and upbeat sounding song especially if you are used to the three minute single edit that can be heard on radio stations today. Happily, the seven minute version is included here with the long keyboard and guitar solos. The Crystal Ship, also from their debut album, is a short piano ballad written by Jim Morrison and The Doors. The song was originally the b-side to Light My Fire, but I would imagine it was its inclusion on this ‘best of’ that propelled the song to classic status. Also, included from their debut is one of the few cover tracks from the band, Alabama Song, an odd blues classic which seems to be about mixing drunkenness with pedophilia, not a great combo in my opinion. Their first and greatest epic Doors song, The End closes the second CD in tremendous fashion. The cosmic twelve-minute journey Morrison’s words take you on is aid beautifully by the fantastic musical soundscape provided by the three remaining band members. The song did not predate the psychedelic craze brought on The Beatles, as they have dipped their collective toe into the psychedelic pool on their 1966 album Revolver, but The Doors’ The End can give even a song like A Day in the Life a run for its money in that area.

From their second album, Strange Days, we get the hit single first, People Are Strange, a short psychedelic trip into insecurities and self awareness.  The title track Strange Days comes in right after to conclude the “strange” theme going on. The song goes even deeper into the psychedelic genre, most likely inspired by The Beatles Sgt Pepper album and concurrent singles released at the time. Another single off of the Strange Days album totally ignores the psychedelic craze going on, as the band gives a gritty bluesy number with Love Me Two Times. Closing out side one is their second epic track, also from Strange Days is When the Music’s Over, an eleven minute audio experience that explored the quiet and the chaotic all in one track. I like that Morrison loudly decries to ‘cancel his subscription to the resurrection’ in one breath and then toward the end of the song he screams ‘save us, Jesus!!’  Rounding out the rest of the first disc are awesome classics mixed with so-so songs. Five to One is a favorite for a lot of Doors fans, a song off of the Waiting For the Sun album. Jim Morrison’s growl-like delivery of the chorus is supposed to sound menacing, like a warning for those he outnumbers with his fellow like-minded cronies. I like that they included the song Waiting For the Sun on this disc instead of on the second disc where it would chronologically belong along side the Morrison Hotel numbers. The song isn’t played on the radio as much as the other classics, but it’s a good enough song to appreciate and I do on this compilation. While Spanish Caravan is far from the best song here, it still showcases Krieger’s love for flamenco acoustic guitar.

Disc Two starts off with another very upbeat song from the Waiting for the Sun album, it’s also another #1 for the band, Hello I Love You. The pure pop of the song contrasts greatly with the majority of their later material that was released in the 1970s, which was mostly heavy blues oriented, for example Roadhouse Blues or LA Woman, both songs represent these days here, and happily this is as deep as they go into that genre here. I love the lyrics for Hello, I Love You, some of my favorite from Morrison. Riders on the Storm is a gorgeous song from their last album LA Woman. The song is long and epic, but also filled with character and atmosphere. There is an underlying relentless groove underneath constantly slithering like a snake while above hovering are Manzarek’s ambiance filled piano’s descending notes as if running down a flight of stairs. Morrison’s reserved vocals are constantly repeating his last phrase, and seem to make sense among the swelling storm sounds. Contrasting the somber vibrations as they fade out, here comes a very upbeat pop song with Touch Me from their Soft Parade album.  

The last big hit for the band was Robbie Krieger’s Love Her Madly in 1971. While this song contains pop elements from other songs of his, somehow there is a harder edge to it, perhaps because of Morrison’s delivery. The song also has a very raw sound to it, a live feel. We go back for the last two songs, firstly for The Unknown Soldier, a song that gets a lot of play, a song admittedly that I don’t understand the appeal for. The End from their first album finishes the compilation maybe because it is simply one of their greatest (if not the greatest) songs of their catalog. Actually it’s probably the last song because of something simpler, the title perhaps. Ah now that’s a corny thing to do.

This is an amazing compilation of the band’s best stuff. Sure I would have loved if something like Not to Touch the Earth and The Soft Parade were present instead of Spanish Caravan or The Unknown Soldier, but I’m not complaining, at least there’s no Tell All the People here. As I look at the tracklistings for all of The Doors anthology/compilation albums, this is by far the best. The Best of the Doors is definitely worth picking up.


The Doors
The Best of the Doors
Length:  Disc One 46:24 minutes / Disc Two 42:57 (total 89:21)
Released: November 26th, 1985   
Rating: 5 stars
 the Songs: Disc One
1. Break on Through
2. Light My Fire
3. The Crystal Ship
4. People Are Strange
5. Strange Days
6. Love Me Two Times
7. Alabama Song
8. Five To One
9. Waiting for the Sun
10. Spanish Caravan
11.  When the Music’s Over
         Disc Two 42:57
12. Hello, I Love You
13. Roadhouse Blues
14. L.A. Woman
15. Riders on the Storm
16. Touch Me
17. Love Her Madly
18. The Unknown Soldier
19. The End


Recommend this product? Yes

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