People Are Strange
Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time: 2012 edition (number: 409)
Nine months after the release of The Doors self-titled debut, the band upped their game for its follow up. Strange Days is a more twisted and mature offering. The mystery was undoubtedly aided by the band's refusal to appear on the cover (except in poster form), leaving the stage to be set by circus performers. Yet, as with many second outings, the album contains a lot of material considered unfit for the debut. This probably explains why a lot of the tracks sound like variations on others. Try telling the difference betweeen the intro to When The Music's Over and, Soul Kitchen for instance. But the Southern Californian magic is still very much in evidence. But by now the band had grown. They wanted the world and they wanted it NOW...
What's most uncanny is how polite the unconventional instrumentation sounds, set against Morrison's blitzed lounge singer act. Compare their timid, aneaemic blues wiggle on Love Me Two Times with the growling beasts that emerged later on Morrison Hotel and LA Woman. Let's face it, the harpsichord probably wasn't the best choice for the middle eight... Only on the 10 minute closer does the band really shake it loose and Morrison allows his pipes to get down and really dirty. Performed live it was to be one of their most confrontational numbers. Likewise, Robby Krieger's guitar had yet to break out of the shadow of Manzarek's filigree organ fills. But on You're Lost Little Girl - the album's most affecting slice of THC-assisted strangeness - it's a barogue, latino jewel. Also exemplary is Paul A Rothchild's spacious yet warm production job that perfectly suits the Weill-meets-Owsley vibe that marked the band apart from any of their contemporaries.
Strange Days contains many of the band's classics: People Are Strange, My Eyes Have Seen You, and the jerky Moonlight Drive. Packed with such treats it fared well with the public, though the band themselves were disappointed that it didn't make them the world-beaters they now felt themselves to be. Unfortunately the road was to get even harder from this point on...