The Doors At 45 On 45!

Do you really need a musical discussion at this point in time? All I can say is that in the "Summer of Love" of 1967, all you could hear coming from car radios, and open windows was the edited version of "Light My Fire." It defined that summer for most of my peers and was the perfect calling card with which to beg for some action from a date. Hard to believe that was 45 years ago.

The album holds up incredibly well, which is why it's revered both by boomers and their children and their (gasp!) grandchildren. The raw power contained in Jim Morrison's voice, combined with uncommon precision still dominates but appreciating everyone else's contributions becomes easier with the passage of a lot of time and especially with the improvement in one's audio system (though I had AR2ax speakers, Dynaco Stereo 70/PAS 3x and Dual 1209/Shure V15 at the time, which wasn't shabby!)

I'm not going back to read the review of The Doors box set published on musicangle.com. It's there should you wish to read it, but after hearing these 45s, what's the point? I did listen last night and compare The Doors from the box set generated from 192k/24 bit files at 33 1/3 and this new double 45 cut by Doug Sax at The Mastering Lab and overseen by original engineer Bruce Botnick. You can also search this site for an interview conducted by me with Bruce when the DCC Compact Classics Doors titles were issued.

I listened first to the double 45 and even though it was cut from "the best available" tape because the master is either missing or not in any condition to be used (the rest of the catalog was sourced from the master tapes) the amount of detail and space produced here is superior to any version of this that I've heard save for the Elektra original, which is serious competition though good luck finding a clean quiet one. Even then the 45rpm cut's spaciousness, dynamics and bass power and particularly the overall sound on what are the inner tracks on the original LP are better on the double 45 cut using an all vacuum tube chain just as was the original.

The DCC doesn't hold up all that well by the way. It doesn't sound like it was cut from master tapes or even anything close to masters. It's pleasingly warm but lacks transient clarity, transparency and doesn't resolve low level detail all that well. Back then we were happy to have anything well done from analog tapes but now we have something much better. I also pulled out the original Mobile Fidelity reissue and while many Mo-fi's back then were criticized for being too bright, this one pressed on JVC "Supervinyl" is one of Mo-Fi's better reissues of that era, plus the tape was how many years younger?

But what really surprised me was the LP/LP comparisons between the Rhino box and this double 45. After playing the double 45 and really enjoying and appreciating John Densmore's drumming as never before, and hearing greater bass texture and extension (bass supposedly by the late keyboardist/bassist Larry Knechtel—check out the beginning of "20th Century Fox" for raw bass power) than I can recall every hearing from this record—not to mention a far more pronounced reverb backdrop—I brought out the Rhino box.

Whatever I wrote about that box then, now, by comparison, the best I can say for The Doors on that set is that it sounds like you're hearing the album played back on the best CD player ever. It's smoooooth, laid back and pleasant but totally lacks balls, grit, detail, spaciousness and raw emotional power. The entire presentation is flat against a wall set up between the speakers. The double 45 has greater dynamics, detail, spaciousness and appropriate grit—everything the smooooth 192k/24 bit sourced version lacks.

And this double 45 wasn't even sourced from the master tape so get ready for even better on subsequent releases. If you like this one, you're going to love the rest, which we'll get to ASAP.

Definitely on my recommended list and the Quality Record Pressings vinyl is superb.

Music Direct Buy It Now

COMMENTS
DJ Huk's picture

Does that go just for the first pressing of The Doors?  From what I understand, Elektra records were of high quality, no matter the pressing.  

Michael Fremer's picture

That's true but there are variations because processing took place on both coasts. And these can sound different. That's true of many labels. For instance I have two copies of <i>Buffalo Springfield Again</i>, both of which have the original tan/purple label. One was mastered at Atlantic while the other has the easily recognizable Columbia mastering stamp. They sound completely different with the Atlantic version far, far, ridiculously superior.<p>

I have two copies of <i>Make Way For Dionne Warwick</i> on the original Scepter silver/red label. It's an astonishing Phil Ramone recording done at A&R and includes "Walk on By."<p>

One was mastered at Bell Sound, one at Columbia. The Bell Sound one is magical. The other? Not so much. In fact, not at all.<p>

I have two "original label" <i>Strange Days</i>, and only one is magical. Of course there are pressing variations even within the same mastering but these difference are profound and based on the quality of the source tape, the playback deck and the mastering and plating, so different is the sound.<p>

An original of Love's <i>Forever Changes</i> sounds completely different than later masterings because the "original" really wasn't on the tape. It was in Arthur Lee's head. The tape was 'raw material' that required a great deal of work in the mastering and cutting process.<p>

The red label Elektra second pressing was a different record because the mastering engineer put up the tape and cut. He didn't pay attention to or care about the mastering notes. For instance the album purposely begins with a fade-up, which is unusual. The red label version doesn't.<p>

Meanwhile if you want to hear something really weird, listen to an original of Joni Mitchell's <i>Blue</i> mastered by  Bernie Grundman for Reprise. For a split second at the beginning of side one, one channel is missing and then you hear a switch being flipped and it comes on! I always thought it was on the tape but the reissue of a few years ago doesn't have it so it was a mistake inexplicably not fixed.<p>

lukejosephchung's picture

My AP pressing of this and "Strange Days" is enroute from Salina, Kansas and is due to arrive on Monday the 16th...can't wait to hear these, Mikey!!!

JC1957's picture

Nice review Mike!

Anxious to see your review of "Strange Days."

Billy the Kid's picture

Had the Limited Edition DCC LP, gave it to a friend to borrow for an audio show, never heard from either of 'em again. Huh. It was a good copy, but arguably veiled. So, I'm feeling awfully motivated right now to go order some 'Doors. Alabama Song always puts a big grin on my face. I could use a grin.

StonedBeatles1's picture

Thank GOD It's Not Issued By Rhino with their Tinny No Bottom End On Anything and Everything They Reissue!

Michael Fremer's picture

I'm not sure why you claim that. Many Rhino reissues follow the grade A chain featuring Kevin Gray's or Bernie Grundman's mastering and RTI's pressing. The only thing that makes it "Rhino" is what's printed on the jacket. I think you're overgeneralizing....

marcel_kyrie's picture

Hey Mike! I arrived here through googling around, trying to figure out how the Rhino Doors album releases might compare with the AP 45 RPM album releases, (buying the six individual AP albums is $100 cheaper than the box-set, somehow). I mean, I'm sure the AP 45 RPM pressings are superior, but I prefer listening to an album side versus flipping the platter every three songs, but sound quality must have the most weight. I wish AP had pressed 33.3 RPM versions, too.

That said, would I really be missing out to get the Rhino releases over the AP releases? They are said to be sourced from the original masters, too. Any comments appreciated!

Michael Fremer's picture
The Rhino box was sourced from 192/24 bit files. The AP box from tape. When I compared the two (I own both) the Rhino box sounded like a really good CD (spatially flat and texturally drab) . The AP box sounding like "you are there". To those who say 192/24 is transparent to the source, I say compare these boxes! Granted there are a few other variables but I think this comparison is pretty clear... AP couldn't do it at 33 1/3 because they could only license the titles at 45.
marcel_kyrie's picture

I wasn't thinking of the box sets, but rather the album releases. But likely they're from the same sources as their respective box sets. But, ok, 45 rpm it is! I've never heard a digitally sourced record I've liked, yet.
Thanks!

Billy the Kid's picture

I can confirm what Mike said below; I have an Atlanta cut as well:

A: 67C-12516-2 AT LW

B: 67C-12517-1 AT LW 

Sounds phenomenal.

In regard to Love's Forever Changes, my Elektra K 42015 "Kinney" blows away the original pressing I had on hand. The original had a very harsh horn section which distorted the listening experience horribly, especially when the volume was cranked up. Aside from a bit of groove noise, the Kinney played out smooth and dynamic, with all instruments intact.

Great blog by the way, I never get to geek out and talk vinyl with other people like I can here!

vinyldaze's picture

Mikey:

I am curious about this master tape situation. Today, I pulled out the DVD-Audio of this title from 2006 and it is explosive. What Bruce Botnik wrote in the liner notes specific to this album is "Luckily, the 4-track masters are in great shape, and we were able to carefully transfer them at 96 kHz/24 bit to Pro Tools HD." I have read all kinds of things, that the masters were poorly handled through the 70's and are not usuable, etc..... but that defies what Bruce stated in the liner notes in the booklet. All I know is this version, which is also understandably a remix, is powerful, clear, crisp and dynamic as can be. It is moot, I know, since the LP is done, but how these masters are either unusable or in great shape is quite interesting.

Jody's picture

You quoted Bruce Botnick saying that the 4-track masters are in great shape... the 4-TRACK masters. But the original 2-TRACK master, which is what an LP should be cut from, if possible, is apparently not in great shape. So they used a first generation tape, made from the original 2-track master a long time ago.

 

So: DVD-Audio, a REMIX, made from the original 4-track masters.

 

This LP - the ORIGINAL mix, made from a copy of the original master a long time ago.

vinyldaze's picture

Thanks, Jody, I appreciate your taking the time.

jpvisual's picture

Michael, question about your comment,

"And this double 45 wasn't even sourced from the master tape so get ready for even better on subsequent releases."

So why should I buy any of these expensive 45s when they were not sourced from the tapes? You also are hinting that a new release might come out doing just that. Is this true? Also, what about the MONO mixes for the first 3 albums? I would like those released. How is this any different from a CD, why buy it on Vinyl?

Michael Fremer's picture
You totally misinterpreted what I wrote!

The first album was sourced from a master tape copy because the original is unusable and will never become unusable. The rest are sourced from the master tapes.

When i wrote this review it was the only record in the set I'd received so that is why I wrote what I wrote back then.

jpvisual's picture

Wow! Ok, thanks Michael. In that case, I will pick them up for sure.

You said, "the original is unusable". Is this why they did not release the doors first album(45 set) in MONO?

I just picked up the Bealtes MONO box. I'm pretty speechless on how Awesome it sounds.

This has made me only want to buy these reissues in MONO, if they were originally recorded that way.

Any thoughts?

jpvisual's picture

So after reading this great review I went ahead and bought all 6 AP Doors albums (from Music Direct).

I'm really unhappy with the quality of these albums.

The first album has a scratch on disc one, side one and "Strange days" disc one is warped.

The other albums sounded pretty good, but there seems to be too much surface noise for a $50 "QUALITY" record.

Yes, I cleaned ALL records before playing with a VPI 16.5 and enzymatic cleaning fluid. NO, I do not have a shit turntable (Clearaudio Concept).

I even took the albums down to where I buy my equipment, just to make sure I wasn't crazy. Nope, not even a 50k AMG turntable could make these sound good.

Just to compare, I also received the MOFI Grateful Dead 45 reissues and they sound fantastic, very flat, very quiet. Actually, they're beautiful.

I'm not posting this to bash Analogue Productions, I think they are a great company. The other AP products I own are great, the Beach Boys reissues and the CCR box sound fantastic.

I'm just very unhappy with these Doors albums. I will exchange and hope that I just received one of the few duds. Although, I do find it funny the quality of two albums is completely unacceptable and the others are just so-so.

mrspu90's picture

I've just bought Strange Days,and it also sounds horrible.No bas,lot's of treble and a sharp midrange.
I can't listen to it,even for a couple of minutes.
What is going on with these "Quality" records?

Michael Fremer's picture
Is that, that is how that recording sounds, whether an original pressing or that reissue: it is bass shy, yes, but if you are hearing "lots of treble" and "sharp midrange", I'd say your system needs some adjustments.....it's actually a pretty decent sounding recording though there's no deep bass...
mrspu90's picture

All my other 45's (not Doors) sounds amazing.I returned the doors,maybe i'll buy the Elington's Masterpiece mono.
11/11-it better sound good,mister Fremer

mrspu90's picture

I've just bought Strange Days,and it also sounds horrible.No bas,lot's of treble and a sharp midrange.
I can't listen to it,even for a couple of minutes.
What is going on with these "Quality" records?

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