The Doors: Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine (Elektra)

Confession time: I don’t like The Doors. I don’t like Jim Morrison. I’ve never really bonded with the group; I think “Hello I Love You” is daft, while “Light My Fire” was better when Jose Feliciano recorded it. To me, Morrison’s music represents the pretentiousness of 1960s rock, and his story seems to be more about his antics than the music. I’ll give him credit; he could write some great poetry, and many of his songs are quite good in the poetic sense.  Which makes this review even more peculiar is that I feel that Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine is the most essential Doors record you’ll ever need.

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine isn’t a greatest hits record. Of the twenty-two songs found here, only three of these songs appeared on the band’s seminal (to some, not me) Greatest Hits, released in 1980. Those three songs, “Love Her Madly,” “Riders On The Storm,” and “Break on Through,” which appeared after the release of 13, their first greatest hits collection.

One must look at the context of the era. Jim Morrison was dead, though the band petered on and made two more albums. This was the first chance Morrison was defined by someone other than himself, and it’s interesting to note the aforementioned lack of hits, even as some of these cuts, like “Strange Days” and “Horse Latitudes,” date back to the band’s debut album, as all of the band’s six albums are sampled. These songs, selected by the band, helped to amalgamate his mythic stature an the legend of him as a poet and shaman.

One must also remember that this was the era of FM radio and the era of hard-rock, where album cuts were favored over hits, and the longer, the better. Thus, several of the songs featured here, such as “LA Woman,” “Peace Frog,” “The End,” and “When The Music’s Over,” would become “hits” for the band, even though they hadn’t been officially released as singles.
Also of interest here are two songs, “Who Scared You” and a cover of Willie Dixon’s “(You Need Meat) Don’t Go No Further,” were b-sides that would not be reissued on another compilation for decades.

Still, I gotta admit that Morrison away from his “pop hits” makes his music much more palpable, even if the artistic rock star pretension lingers. In fact, I’ve listened to this collection a little more than I expected to, and may go listen again.

Oh, Lizard King, you may have done it again…

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