Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Doors - Greatest Hits (1996)

The other day I picked up Dangerous, a CD of one of the late Bill Hicks' stand-up shows from a branch of Half-Price Books in San Marcos, because I like Bill Hicks and I think he's funny; or I thought I did. We listened to the disc on the journey home - the we here being myself and the wife rather than the royal we - or at least we listened to some of it. Most of the material was fairly familiar, having turned up elsewhere, and then he gets onto a rant about Debbie Gibson who apparently made some crap records back in the late eighties. Bill's objection seemed to be that Debbie Gibson should be regarded as essentially worthless because her music appealed to teenage girls and could hardly be compared to the work of the greats - Jimi Hendrix for example. Bill then went into some monologue about Debbie Gibson jamming with Hendrix, a pairing which would of course expose the futility of her existence, concluding with a description of Debbie Gibson lezzing it up with the similarly worthless Tiffany, focussing in particular on descriptions of presumed hairless vaginas; and suddenly I realised that I was never quite such a fan of Hicks as I once believed myself to be.

It's one aspect of rock I've always loathed with a fucking passion, that whole priapic shithead rock God of the sixties deal - arseholes you would ordinarily cross the road to avoid who by rights should be digging ditches for a living and voting UKIP, but having once held a tune whilst in proximity to a tape recorder for about five minutes, they've somehow come to be regarded as prophets of the age. I don't actually have anything against Jimi Hendrix, or any of them in particular, and I'd probably almost certainly rather listen to him than to Debbie Gibson, but it's the assumption which drives me batty, namely the assumption that the legendary status of certain persons goes beyond a few natty little tunes, that some poorly quantified quality of cool necessarily renders these people any more interesting or deserving of recognition than, off the top of my head, Mike Batt or Jonathan bloody King. The assumption forms the basis of why shagging a drunken twelve-year old is apparently sweet lurve woah yeah baby cruel talkin' woman rather than kiddy-fiddling if you're sufficiently famous with just the right quota of roguish genius, and providing it happened a while ago and that she was into it, man.

Not that any of this specifically applies to Jim Morrison, but it relates somewhat to why it's taken me this long to own a Doors album of any description. There was a bit of a revival around the time I was still at school, somehow thanks to Echo & the Bunnymen, and I had at least one friend who suddenly had all of the Doors records, wore beads, and took to describing things as groovy at least until the Sisters of Mercy came along. Morrison was a poet, they said, the voice of his generation, a troubled warrior of the soul and all that stuff which just sounds like horseshit to me; but, even I had to admit through the passing haze of my hatred for all things sixties, that the Doors had some cracking tunes; therefore fuckity fuckity fuck!

So I've been on the look out for a Doors hits collection for some time - admittedly not looking very hard - and I found this which ticks all of the boxes but for Crystal Ship, so close enough.

Just to wring out the last few drops of reservations - sorry, but Jim Morrison really wasn't a poet of any description, and his rambling bollocks on The Ghost Song really isn't so different to the stuff Sid James came out with on the Poetry Society episode of Hancock's Half Hour, and of course:

Do you love her madly?
Wanna be her daddy?

Ewww. No thanks; and it's probably convenient to the legend that he was so unfortunately snatched from our midst before he could fully succumb to the hamburger bloat presaged by LA Woman and the aforementioned Ghost Song, although interestingly enough, the post-Morrison incarnation of the Doors came up with some fairly decent material, so maybe it was him all along.

Anyway, regardless of the above, the Doors still sound fucking amazing when they were good, and Jimothy's voice was perfect for that bluesy combination of electric piano and fuzzy garage guitar; and so perfect as to pick up the shortfall of rhyming couplets like the above, because song lyrics really don't need to work as poetry. The legend is still off-putting, at least to me, mostly being mumbling crap amounting to they were the Stone Roses of their day, but stick this on and the sound coming out of your speaker short circuits all possible objections. If only half of those other supposed legends of that generation had ever delivered anything so strong as this lot...

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