The Doors debut album sold over four million copies, and its number one single “Light My Fire” received massive radio airplay during early 1967.
September of 1967 found The Doors releasing their sophomore effort, Strange Days. While the album would climb to the number three position on The American album charts, it would be far less commercially successful selling just over one million copies.
Most of the material for Strange Days was written at the same time as their debut album, but for whatever reasons were not included. Beyond that fact the music is very different in places than their norm, it was very dark and took a decidedly psychedelic turn. The album jacket, which pictures an odd assortment of people to say the least, probably gives the best hint of what is contained inside. Still, the music resonates and in places mesmerizes. It produced no huge hit single, which may have hurt its initial appeal, and was not the grand affair of its predecessor but does have an intimate appeal which gets inside your brain.
The two tracks which were released as singles were very different from one another. “People Are Strange” was dark and hypnotic with a number of tempo changes. It is a song which has grown on me over the years and now remains fascinating over four decades after its release. “Love Me Two Times” was Robbie Krieger’s attempt at a blues song. This light weight affair is almost unique within their catalogue.
There were a number of other songs that can be described as either highlights or interesting; take your pick. “Strange Days” lyrics exemplify Jim Morrison’s poetry at its darkest and best. The psychedelic keyboards give the song a haunting atmosphere. “Moonlight Drive” was one of Morrison’s earliest compositions and, despite its dreaminess in places, explores the dark side of love. “Unhappy Girl” features some nice slide guitar by Krieger, but it was Manzarek’s keyboards recorded in reverse which made the song memorable. The eleven minute, minus two seconds, closer “When The Music’s Over” pales in comparison to the ultimate brilliance of “The End,” but Krieger’s, Manzarek’s and Desmore’s jamming and Morrison’s screaming over it all has a certain appeal.
Strange Days is an acquired taste as it is just different from their other releases. In some ways it fits their legacy well as it is scary and primal. If you want to explore the music of The Doors, this is not the place to start but is an album that will need to be considered and visited.