Music

The Doors: The Bright Midnight Sampler

Fred Kovey

Jim Morrison's legacy makes it easy to forget that the Doors were primarily a pop band.


The Doors

The Bright Midnight Sampler

Label: Bright Midnight
US Release Date: 2000-11-29
Amazon
iTunes

There is a toxic theory that goes something like this: Jim Morrison was a shaman. The Lizard King. His spirit was inhabited (literally or figuratively) by Indians when he was a young boy. He was a social revolutionary. A genius. A good poet. All of these things are false. Jim Morrison was a rock star. He was the most important member of the Doors. He was also the clown prince of goofy death obsessed show-offs.

Jim Morrison's legacy makes it easy to forget that the Doors were primarily a pop band. Two of their records end with 12-minute rock epics, but those very same records are chock-full of snappy little pop tunes like "Light My Fire", "Touch Me", "Peace Frog", and "Love Me Two Times". On stage, Jim Morrison's theatrics tended to overshadow the rest of the band. After all, who's noticing the backline when The Lizard King is threatening to expose his penis. Still, despite their tendency to indulge Morrison in ways that seem silly in retrospect, the Doors were a very credible live band. Bootlegs have been available for years that attest to that, as have an EP recorded live at the Hollywood Bowl and an LP called Absolutely Live.

In 1996, while assembling live material for their box set, the three remaining Doors and their former engineer, Bruce Botnick, and manager, Danny Sugerman uncovered a treasure trove of unreleased live material. In deference to fan interest in all things Doors, they decided to forego the editing process and release everything. Over the next six years the band plans to release albums on an Internet-only basis at the rate of three recordings every six months for a staggering grand total of 36 CDs. The Bright Midnight Sampler is a preview of that material, nearly all of it from the band's 1969 and 1970 tours.

At more than 70 minutes long, The Bright Midnight Sampler is hardly skimpy, but considering the magnitude of the project it's hard to judge the entirety of the material without hearing it. Still, in and of itself, the Sampler is a very pleasant listen. The band has done a good job of balancing long, meandering Morrison epics with shorter, more accessible songs. The 16-minute version of "The End" which closes the sampler (natch) is probably for die-hard fans and depressed 13-year-olds only, but everything else on the disc sounds fresh and surprisingly current. Sound quality is excellent all the way through and remarkably consistent considering the songs were culled from multiple performances. Still the disc's greatest asset is that it was recorded early in the Doors career, before Jim Morrison became irredeemably self-indulgent. For this reason alone the Sampler is preferable to the long available Hollywood Bowl disc, which focuses on material from the Door's final record, LA Woman.

Though I doubt The Bright Midnight Sampler will be of much interest to non Doors fans, it certainly should be. Like most of their albums, it makes a strong case against the characterization of the Doors as mere vehicles for Jim Morrison's minstrelsy. The time is right to reassess the Doors' legacy. With the help of Oliver Stone and a variety of breathless paperback biographies, Jim Morrison is sure to remain an antihero to a certain type of disaffected teenager; this recording is another step in making a musical case for the Doors as something more than that.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.