The Doors arrived in 1967, the same year as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; both were psychedelic touchstones and among the first major rock discs that truly stood as albums, rather than collections of songs. But whereas the Beatles took a basically sunny view of humanity, the Doors’ debut offered the dark side of the moon. Their sound was minor-keyed and subterranean, bluesy and spacey, and their subject matter — like that of many of rock’s great albums — was sex, death and getting high. On “End of the Night,” the band invited you to “take a journey to the bright midnight.”
The key to the band’s appeal was the tension between singer Jim Morrison’s Dionysian persona and the band’s crisp, melodic playing. Keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger’s extended solos on the album version of “Light My Fire” carried one to the brink of euphoria, while the eleven-minute epic “The End” journeyed to a harrowing psychological state. Scattered among these lengthier tracks are such nuggets as “Soul Kitchen” (“learn to forget”) and Morrison’s acid-drenched takes on the blues (“Back Door Man”) and Kurt Weill (“Alabama Song”). Though great albums followed, The Doors stands as the L.A. foursome’s most successful marriage of rock poetics with classically tempered hard rock — a stoned, immaculate classic.