Monday, 4 August 2014

“The Complete Studio Recordings” by THE DOORS (1999 Rhino 7CD Box Set of Remasters) - A Review by Mark Barry…

This review is part of my Series "SOUNDS GOOD: Exceptional CD Remasters 1970s Rock And Pop" Download Book available to buy on Amazon to either your PC or Mac (it will download the Kindle software to read the book for free to your toolbar). Click on the link below to go my Author's Page for this and other related publications:


"…Love Me Two Times…"

Back when Rhino were amongst the best reissue labels in the world (with access to unlimited primo material) – they regularly produced fabulous Box Sets like “The Complete Studio Recordings” by THE DOORS. Let’s get riding that storm of details…because there’s a lot to get through…

USA released November 1999 - "The Complete Studio Recordings" by THE DOORS on Rhino 62434-2 (Barcode 075596243421) comes in a 5½ x 5½-inch CUBE BOX with a flip-ribboned-lid (the artwork is a collage of Elektra records album sleeves). Inside are 8 slots – one for the sumptuous booklet and 7 albums in oversized 5½” card repro sleeves (one of which is a Rarities set). The STEREO mixes have been used for all six Studio albums (catalogue numbers and release dates provided below are American) and it breaks down as follows:

1. "The Doors", debut album released January 1967 on Elektra EKL 4007 (Mono) and EKS-74007 (Stereo), 44:30 minutes
1. Break On Through (To The Other Side)
2. Soul Kitchen
3. The Crystal Ship
4. Twentieth Century Fox
5. Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)
6. Light My Fire
7. Back Door Man [Side 2]
8. I Looked At You
9. End Of The Night
10. Take It As It Comes
11. The End

2. "Strange Days", 2nd LP released September 1967 on Elektra EKL-4014 (Mono) and EKS-74014 (Stereo), 35:17 minutes
1. Strange Days
2. You’re Lost Little Girl
3. Love Me Two Times
4. Unhappy Girl
5. Horse Latitudes
6. Moonlight Drive
7. People Are Strange [Side 2]
8. My Eyes Have Seen You
9. I Can’t See Your Face In My Mind
10. When The Music’s Over

3. "Waiting For The Sun", 3rd LP released September 1968 on Elektra EKL-4024 (Mono) and EKS-74024 (Stereo), 33:05 minutes
1. Hello, I Love You
2. Love Street
3. Not To Touch The Earth
4. Summer’s Almost Gone
5. Wintertime Love
6. The Unknown Soldier
7. Spanish Caravan [Side 2]
8. My Wild Love
9. We Could Be So Good Together
10. Yes, The River Knows
11. Five To One

4. "The Soft Parade", 4th LP released July 1969 on Elektra EKS-75005 (Stereo), 33:54 minutes
1. Tell All The People
2. Touch Me
3. Shaman’s Blues
4. Do It
5. Easy Ride
6. Wild Child [Side 2]
7. Runnin’ Blue
8. Wishful Sinful
9. The Soft Parade

5. "Morrison Hotel/Hard Rock Cafe", 5th LP released February 1970 on Elektra EKS 75007 (Stereo), 37:24 minutes
1. Roadhouse Blues [Side 1 is called “Hard Rock Café”]
2. Waiting For The Sun
3. You Make Me Real
4. Peace Frog
5. Blue Sunday
6. Ship Of Fools
7. Land Ho! [Side 2 is called “Morrison Hotel”]
8. The Spy
9. Queen Of The Highway
10. Indian Summer
11. Maggie M’Gill

6. "L.A. Woman", 6th LP released April 1971 on Elektra EKS-75011, 48:51 minutes
1. The Changeling
2. Love Her Madly
3. Been Down So Long
4. Cars Hiss By My Window
5. L.A. Woman
6. L’America [Side 2]
7. Hyacinth House
8. Crawling King Snake
9. The WASP (Texas Radio And The Big Beat)
10. Riders On The Storm

7. "Essential Rarities" – The Best Of The ’97 Box Set, 73:26 minutes
1. Hello To The Cities (Live on the Ed Sullivan Show, 967 and at Cobo Hall, Detroit, 1970)
2. Break On Through (Live at the Isle Of Wight Festival, England, 1970)
3. Roadhouse Blues (Recorded live at Madison Square Garden, New York, 1970)
4. Hyacinth House (Demo Recorded at Bobby Krieger’s Home Studio, 1969)
5. Who Scared Who (Recorded at Elektra Studios, 1969)
6. Whiskey, Mystics And Men (Recorded at Elektra Studios, 1970)
7. I Will Never Be Untrue (Recorded live at the Aquarius Theater, Hollywood, 1970)
8. Moonlight Drive (Demo Recorded at World Pacific Studios, 1965)
9. Queen Of The Highway (Alternative Version Recorded at Elektra Studios, 1969)
10. Someday Soon (Live at Seattle Center, Seattle, 1970)
11. Hello, I Love You (Demo Recorded at World Pacific Studios, 1965)
12. Orange County Suite (Recorded at Elektra Studios, 1970)
13. The Soft Parade (Live On PBS Television, New York, 1970)
14. The End (Recorded live at Madison Square Garden, New York, 1970)
15. BONUS TRACK: Woman Is A Devil (Recorded at Elektra Studios, 1969)

This box set hits you on two fronts – and in my book – the two that matter – sound and presentation. Housed in individual slots  - the attention to detail on the Repro Card sleeves is superb. The CDs for 1 to 3 have Brown Elektra Records labels, 4 and 5 have Red and 6 is the Butterfly variant as per the 1967 to 1971 vinyl albums. “Strange Days”, “The Soft Parade” and “Morrison Hotel” have their Inner Bags repro’d with “The Doors” and “Waiting For The Sun” all with Elektra Records Label Bags (and gatefolds where applicable). And of course there’s the beautiful die-cut sleeve of “L.A. Woman” with its plastic and inner yellow bag (very tasty indeed). The Essentials Disc also sports a gatefold card sleeve. The properly chunky and beautifully laid-out booklet is over 60-pages long with essays on each album (time-lined), lyrics to all at the rear and a plethora of period photos and memorabilia peppering the text throughout (liner notes by DAVE DiMARTINO). It’s a fabulous read. But all of this is nothing to the AUDIO…

Remastered from the original analogue 2-track master tapes to 96K/24-bit digital by BRUCE BOTNIK and BERNIE GRUNDMAN at Bernie Grundman Studios in California in August 1999 – the sound quality is mind-blowingly good (Botnik was the original engineer). Sure there’s been other remasters since and even fatter boxes – but for me – the audio detail presented here has never been surpassed. The only obvious shame is the absence of the rare MONO mixes on 1 to 3 – especially on the stunning debut where the differences are acute (many fans prefer the MONO). But in my book that doesn’t take away from the superlative warmth and presence these remasters have.

The hits are all here – “Light My Fire”, “The End”, “Love Me Two Times”, “Hello, I Love You”, “People Are Strange”, “Touch Me”, “Love Her Madly” and of course the amazing “Riders on The Storm”. But the beauty of this box is that it allows you to dig out those LP nuggets that don’t get enough airing – stuff like “Back Door Man”, “Spanish Caravan”, “Shaman’s Blues”, “Peace Frog”, “Roadhouse Blues” and  “Cars Hiss By My Window”. And amongst the goodies on “Essentials” are superb outtakes like a menacing “Whiskey, Mystics And Men”, a hurting “Orange County Suite” and the live Bluesy take on “I Will Never Be Untrue”.

Despite being deleted pretty quickly – it was one of those Box Sets you saw cropping up all of the time. But whilst common once – in 2015 it’s not so much any more - with some dealers trying to procure over £200 for a sealed copy. You can still nail it for under £50 in certain places.

"...I live uptown…I live downtown…I live all around…" - Morrison sang on “The Changeling” and I suppose in fifty years time we’ll still be trying to figure out what he and his fab band were actually on about (in a good way). 

Start your love affair with THE DOORS here while you can still afford to…

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Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

Spines of Exceptional CD Remasters

INDEX - Artists, Albums, Record Labels, CD Remaster Engineers, Liner Notes Authors, Links etc