This week’s expanded 50th anniversary edition of the Doors‘ self-titled debut album isn’t the only one of the group’s titles that will be receiving deluxe treatment, according to guitarist Robby Krieger.
“Of course the first one’s always the most important I suppose, but yeah, definitely, we’re going to do it again next year for ‘Strange Days’,” Krieger tells Billboard. Other dips into the archive are also being planned, including a recording from the Doors’ 1970 performance at the Isle of Wight festival, while Krieger also hopes to release the tribute he and drummer John Densmore did for late keyboardist Ray Manzarek during February of 2016 at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles.
“It doesn’t really feel like 50 years,” Krieger says of the anniversary, which began with a Day Of The Doors celebration on January 4 in Venice. “It feels like it wasn’t that long ago, probably because people have been talking about (the band) ever since, so it’s not something you forgot about for 50 years and then, oh, there it is. It’s been around, always.”
“The Doors: 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition” comes out Friday (March 31) featuring both the stereo and mono mixes of the album as well as a third CD recorded live at the Matrix in Los Angeles on March 7, 1967. The set also comes with the mono mix on vinyl and a deluxe book with new liner notes by music journalist David Fricke. The album wound up peaking at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 when it was released, launching the hits “Light My Fire” and “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” and has been certified four-times platinum.
“I’m just amazed that it did as well as it did,” Krieger says. “It was really lucky that it got any attention at all because when we first released it it was on a small label; Elektra was not a big label at the time, and mostly folk music and flamenco, stuff like that. But they did have Love, so we were happy to be signed by Elektra.” Krieger reveals that he also wasn’t happy with the way “The Doors” sounded when it was released, owing to studio circumstances.
“I found out years later it was because when we mastered it the tape, when it all got on one side of the reel, would slow down a little bit,” the guitarist explains. “So ‘Light My Fire’ always sounded kinda dark and slow to me, and I found out 20 years later the thing was slowed down almost half a step. Luckily when we released it as a single we sped it up a little bit and made it sound like it should, and it sounded great. But a lot of people when they play that song, they’re like, ‘Is it in A-flat or A?’ It depends on what version you hear.”
Krieger recently announced an 11-date solo tour kicking off April 7 in Pasadena, which will give some focus to the first Doors album. “We’re going to definitely zero in on that first album, a lot of those songs,” he says. “We almost always open with ‘Break On Through,’ and of course ‘Back Door Man’ always works, and ‘Light My Fire,’ naturally. And we’re thinking about doing ‘The End;’ Ray never wanted to do ‘The End’ when I was playing with him; He was like, ‘Well, that’s Jim’s song. We should leave it at that’ even though I’ve done ‘The End’ with some of my bands and it’s really a shame not to do it ’cause it’s got some good East Indian scales and all that, so it’s kind of fun to jam on.”
Krieger is planning to record a new solo album this year, and he’s also hoping to get Densmore, who suffers with tinnitus, out for some live shows. “If it’s at the right place at the right time, if we can get the right singers, maybe he’ll do it. We’ll see what happens,” Krieger notes. “I know people would love to see that. I know he can still play; He did three or four songs on the Ray tribute, and he sounded as good as ever.”