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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Doors

Waiting for the Sun (40th Anniversary Remix)

Review by Julie Knispel

Waiting for the Sun was the Door’s first number 1 selling album, reaching that lofty position on release in 1968. In many ways, this was both a boon and a bane. On the positive side, the band’s blend of blues, jazz and wold music elements, filtered through a dark cynicism, was being devoured by a rapidly expanding fan base hungry for something to rinse their aural palate from the turgid bubblegum music that still lingered on the airwaves. At the same time, this increase in sales and fan base was seen as a slap in the face to the LA underground scene that had nurtured and raised the band, and for the first time, mutterings of “sell outs” were heard directed toward the band.

This is somewhat unfair, as Waiting for the Sun is perhaps the band’s most diverse album to date, with spoken word pieces jostling with flamenco, theatrics and jazz for position. This was the first Doors album not to feature a piece in excess of 10 minutes as well, as their future classic “The Celebration of the Lizard” was aborted in the studio, only one section (“Not to Touch the Earth”) seeing the light of day on this album. As a result, the material is based around shorter tracks, offering diversity not yet seen on vinyl from the band.

This 40th Anniversary remix offers long time fans a chance to become acquainted with an album that is at once both familiar and yet startlingly new. Additional instrumental and vocal parts have been added to tracks, with instruments and arrangements slightly tweaked and pushed in different directions, leading to an entirely new, refreshing listening experience. Tracks have been lengthened, punched up, glossy and shined up for a new generation. In addition, a selection of bonus tracks from the same era as the original album sessions adds value, as well as offering a new insight into the making of this third Doors album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 5 at

Track by Track Review
Hello, I Love You
This song, the opening track on Waiting for the Sun, hit number 1 in 1968. The mix used here on this reissue is a bit punchier, with more present guitar and a darker, slightly more evil vibe. The track features an extra long ride out, with several whoops and screams from Morrison. Even extended, this could have been played on the radio in 1968, but it’s likely that it’d not have been quite as successful. Think of this as the “album version” of the song, while the previously released recording was the single.
Love Street
A pleasant and sad song, “Love Street” has always been one of my favorite Doors tracks. With a keyboard line that reminds of classical/baroque harpsichord lines, slightly jaunty drumming, and dashes of clean electric guitar, Morrison’s vocals, slightly aloof and disconnected, the overall tone is wistful and longing. “I guess I like it far,” Morrison intones, and that says as much as is needed here. This new mix features an up front whistling part which simply adds to the mood.
Not To Touch The Earth
On its original release in 1968, this was the only piece of “The Celebration of the Lizard” to see the light from the studio. A dark and almost evil piece, the throbbing, undulating bass line is sex itself. Morrison’s vocals are particularly theatrical, as warranted by this song. Robbie Krieger’s descending guitar lines in the chorus have always been a treat, as are his little psychedelic slide lines seasoned here and there. The new mix is again punchier and thicker across the board, and may feature slightly different vocal takes from Morrison, as well as a slightly longer breakdown at the end. A bit of studio chatter leads into the next track.
Summer's Almost Gone
A song mourning the loss of golden summer and innocence, Krieger’s sinewy slide guitar has always been a highlight here. The new mix showcases his work with a bit more presence, while Ray Manzarek’s organ and brief piano interludes take a slightly lower presence. John Densmore’s drumming is wonderfully understated, yet perfect in its jazziness.
Wintertime Love
Where the previous song was slow and sorrowful, “Wintertime Love” is the opposite in just about every way. It’s quick and pacey, with loads of Manzarek harpsichord and some humming bits that just can’t be ignored. “Wintertime Love” is a decidedly underrated track in the Doors’ canon, and the more present mix released on this 40th Anniversary edition of the album proves this even more. Amazingly brief at just under 2 minutes, it’s a brilliant bit of songwriting that shows the band more than capable of writing a concise pop song that still pushes the boundaries.
The Unknown Soldier
This piece was one of the band’s theatrical highlights on stage, what with Morrison miming being shot by a firing line in concert. It’s still as valid a song today, with the country dealing with the military situation in the Middle East, as it was in 1968 with the US embroiled in Vietnam. More effects in the ride out, with tolling bells more present, louder crowd noises, and the obligatory punchier mix, differentiate this from the original album version.
Spanish Caravan
Exemplifying diversity, “Spanish Caravan” opens with flamenco guitar courtesy of Robbie Krieger. It presents an entirely different tone and flavor on the album, and as the song moves on, with cymbals and percussion added way back in the mix, it propels the listener to 15th Century Spain, a weary sailor bemoaning his lot in life. The number almost feels like two, with the second half mimicking the first, with this variation done entirely electric. The band shines here, Krieger’s guitar fuzzed and buzzing, Manzarek’s keyboards more present, and Densmore driving the song to its end. Morrison’s disconnected delivery fits it perfectly.
My Wild Love
The experimentation continues with “My Wild Love,” a shamanistic track with chanted vocals, humming and hand claps, and hand percussion evoking a tribal, dancing around the campfire naked vibe. This is Morrison in full flight, the shaman arrived, bringing the listener along with him on his trip to the ghost towns and pueblos of the deep southwest. Differences in this mix are slight, restrained mostly to boosting the backing slightly in comparison to Morrison’s vocal levels. Again, there may be a few slight differences in vocal takes used for certain parts, but this piece sounds closest to the original album mix.
We Could Be So Good Together
Titles can be deceptive. Take “We Could Be So Good Together,” as an example. From the title, it sounds like a song of longing and pleading. However, one listen reveals a darker mood indeed, and the narrator seems less pleading and almost stalkerish in intent. Morrison’s delivery is strident and almost commanding; while guitars and organ have a buzz saw distortion to them. Densmore’s fills and flourishes add a touch of whimsy to this otherwise dark and frightening little piece.
Yes, The River Knows
It’s another song in the vein of “Summer’s Almost Gone,” yet this is more mystical and magical. Morrison’s vocals are dreamy, lost, drenched in sorrow, while the understated arrangement does its best to make those vocals shine. Manzarek’s piano playing is wonderful and fluid, evoking the titular river from the title. Fairly simple drumming from Densmore, and flourishes of chorused guitar glisten in the mix. Considering Morrison’s predisposition to drink, the lines “I promised I would drown myself in mystic heated wine” have always been a bit of a punch in the gut for me, and never fail to choke me up a bit.
Five To One
The Doors in slightly less apolitical territory, “Five To One” is built around a strident, almost militaristic drum beat, Densmore pounding the skins in time with Manzarek’s organ stabs. Robbie Krieger adds a snaky bluesy slide riff on guitar, while Morrison screams and whoops. Krieger’s guitar solo is one of his strongest and most memorable in the Doors’ catalogue. This is a track that was a strong highlight live, with Morrison’s theatrical and improvisatory delivery, and the new mix freshens it up and renews its validity for the current day. A bit of studio chatter, clapping, and a final word from Morrison ends the album proper, leaving a significant selection of bonus tracks to enjoy.
Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor
The first bonus track on this expanded 40th Anniversary remix/reissue, this is the instrumental Doors performing one of Jim Morrison’s favorite classical pieces. The song would be reused in 1978 on the album An American Prayer as backing for the climactic final poem on the release. Their rendition and arrangement is subtle, understated, and fits the original composition like a glove. Listen, and try not to get choked up at its simple beauty.
Not to Touch the Earth (dialogue)
Roughly fifty seconds of studio chatter, conversation, and noise leading into a take on this section of the “Celebration of the Lizard” suite. At this point it is difficult to tell if the song has been aborted as a full 17-minute composition, with this section excised.
Not to Touch the Earth (take 1)
Take One leads out of the studio chatter. The bass line is already fully present, albeit more subdued. Densmore has a fantastically smooth jazz groove working, while Morrison’s vocals, also subdued and restrained in comparison to the final album take, are locked into the melody that we all know and have heard for the past almost 40 years. Without the full band (Krieger is noticeably absent in the mix here) or overdubs, the piece lacks a lot of the power and punch that drove it on the album. This is an interesting first look at the song.
Not to Touch the Earth (take 2)
Take Two opens with a bit more studio chatter (this time not indexed separately). Take two is much closer to the actual album take, with Morrison more unhinged and wild in his delivery. Krieger’s guitar makes its appearance and presence known, with keening, overdriven slide and lead lines that cut through the mix. This take ends with lines that would be used more in concert to bridge this to other sections of the “Celebration” suite, leading one to believe that this take may have been from when the entire side long composition was still a possible inclusion on the album.
Celebration of The Lizard (an experiment/work in progress)
The subtitle says it all...this rendition of “The Celebration of the Lizard” is fully a work in progress. All the parts are there, yet the song has not fully freed itself from the framework that was erected around it to aid in its construction. The composition really excelled in the live environment, where Morrison’s shamanistic, improvisatory side could drive the work in directions unknown, the band hanging on for dear life trying to follow.
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