Published in the Los Angeles Free Press
BY GENE YOUNGBLOOD
The Doors’ new album, “Strange Days,” is a landmark in rock music. It ventures beyond the conventional realm of musical expression: it has become the theater. The cruel theater of Artaud, and of “Marat/Sade.” The theater of shock, and of McClure’s “The Beard.” The theater of the absurd, Grand Guignol in electronic shrieks. The erotic demons of Bosch wiggling across the musical stage.
Even the record label – Elektra – Is apropos, for the music of The Doors is electric both in fact and fantasy: it doesn’t soothe, it assaults; it doesn’t encourage, it intimidates; it doesn’t touch the heart. It tickles the prostrate. The Beatles and The Stones are blowing your mind; The Doors are for afterwards, when your mind is already gone. It’s like screeching your fingernails on glass.
The music of The Doors is the music of total abandon. If The Beatles find their cinematic equivalent in Fellini (“For the Benefit of Mr. Kite”) or Antonioni (A Day In The Life”), The Doors conjure up the eyeball-slashing of Luis Bunuel (“CHien Andalou”) and the baroque orgies of Anger’s “Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome.” Indeed, the wicked of the Doors’ psycho-sexual musico-literary tapestries can be found in the UCLA student films of Ray Manzarek, “Evergreen” and “Introduction.” Though not yet fully realized, they embodied the same black humor and ominous moods which now inform the Doors’ lyrics:
Strange eyes fill strange rooms
Voices will signal their tire end
The hostess is grinning
Her guests sleep from sinning
Hear me talk of sin
And you know this is it.
The Doors’ music is the music of outrage. It is not sham. It probes the secrets of truth. It is avant’garde in content if not technique: it speaks of madness that dwells within us all, of the Velvet Underground, of depravity and dreams, but it speaks of them in relatively conventional musical terms. That is its strength and its beauty – – – a beauty that terrifies.
The music of The Doors is more surreal than psychedelic, it is more anguish than acid. More than rock, it is ritual – – the ritual of psychic-sexual exorcism. The Doors are the warlocks of popculture. The agonized grunts are screams that fly from Jim Morrison’s angelic mouth are indeed as enigmatic as the idea of a butterfly screaming. The Doors are saying there are screams we don’t hear, and theyre trying to give them shape. Morrison IS an angel; an exterminating angel. He and The Doors are a demonic and beautiful miracle that has risen like shrieking Phoenix from the burning bush of the new music.