[Review] The Doors: Waiting for the Sun (1968)

The band’s third album has a sunnier disposition than the first two, at least some of the time.

Kronomyth 3.0: The sun of strange days.

Dappled sunlight enters The Doors’ dungeon of despair and dislocation through a basement window on Waiting for the Sun. It’s found in the streaks of optimism that appear in between the dark shadows. Love Street, Wintertime Love and Yes, The River Knows are romantic ballads at heart, light moments contrasting the heaviness and spookiness of Five to One and Not to Touch the Earth. The balance of light and dark, while admittedly unnatural, marks The Doors’ third album as a different kind of journey than the first two albums.

For some, Waiting for the Sun lacks the intensity of The Doors and Strange Days. For others, it’s technicolor journey across a broader musical vista. Certainly, the album’s musical range is richer in many ways. Ray Manzarek’s keyboards are nothing short of supernatural, to the extent that it’s not even clear which instrument he’s playing. Robby Krieger also flourishes in the newfound sunlight on Spanish Caravan and “Yes, the River Knows.”

As for Jim Morrison, his lyrics continue to qualify as poetry. “Not to Touch the Earth” introduces the Lizard King (the inner gatefold cover features an entire poem dedicated to the idea), while The Unknown Soldier and My Wild Love are basically poems set to spare accompaniment. Morrison does sound out of it some of the time (e.g., “Wintertime Love”), but he’s still a magnetic force and producer Paul Rothchild knows how to wring every bit of energy from his dark star.

As with the albums before, Waiting for the Sun topped the US charts and produced another hit single with the psychedelic pop song, Hello, I Love You. (“The Unknown Soldier b/w We Could Be So Good Together had been released as a single a few months earlier.) While “Hello, I Love You” is classic Doors, it’s atypical of their third album, strident where much of the record lingers. You may wish to linger long at Waiting for the Sun too, as it contains some of their warmest, richest music, including what may be one of the earliest progressive rock songs in “Spanish Caravan.”

Original elpee version

A1. Hello, I Love You (2:22)
A2. Love Street (3:06)
A3. Not to Touch the Earth (3:54)
A4. Summer’s Almost Gone (3:20)
A5. Wintertime Love (1:52)
A6. The Unknown Soldier (3:10)
B1. Spanish Caravan (2:58)
B2. My Wild Love (2:50)
B3. We Could Be So Good Together (2:20)
B4. Yes, the River Knows (2:35)
B5. Five to One (4:22)

All selections written and arranged by The Doors.

The Players

John Densmore (drums), Robby Krieger (guitar), Ray Manzarek (keyboards), Jim Morrison (vocals) with Douglas Lubahn (occasional bass), Kerry Magness (bass on B5), Leroy Vinegar (acoustic bass on B1). Produced by Paul A. Rothchild; production supervised by Jac Holzman; engineered by Bruce Botnick.

The Pictures

Front cover photo by Paul Farrara. Art direction & design by William S. Harvey. Back cover photo by Guy Webster.

The Plastic

Released on elpee on July 3, 1968 in the US and Canada (Elektra, EKS-74024) [tan label], the UK (Elektra, K42041) and France (Vogue, CLVLXEK 277) with gatefold cover. Reached #1 on the US charts (RIAA-certified gold record) and #16 on the UK charts.

  1. Re-issued on elpee in 1970 in the UK (Elektra, K42041) [butterfly label] with gatefold cover.
  2. Re-issued on elpee in November 1971 in the US (Elektra, EKS-74024) [butterfly label].
  3. Re-issued on elpee in Japan (Elektra, P-10500E) with gatefold cover and insert.
  4. Re-issued on cassette in Portugal (Elektra, ELE 442041).
  5. Re-issued on cassette in the US (Elektra, TC-54024) with cover variation.
  6. Re-issued on elpee in 1980 in the US (Elektra, EKS-74024] [red label small E].
  7. Re-packaged as Two on One with The Doors on 2-for-1 cassette in 1982 in the US (Elektra, 4-60156).
  8. Re-issued on elpee in 1983 in the US (Elektra, EKS-74024) [red-black label].
  9. Re-issued on elpee in Russia (Melodiya, 30255).
  10. Re-issued on compact disc in 1985 worldwide (Elektra, 74024).
  11. Re-issued on cassette in Canada (Elektra, CEK-74024).
  12. Re-issued on cassette in Germany (Elektra, 60661-4).
  13. Re-released on remastered gold disc on October 26, 1993 in the US (DCC, GZS-1045).
  14. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in Japan (Elektra, AMCY-6153).
  15. Re-released on audiophile elpee on February 10, 1998 in the US (DCC, LPZ-2049).
  16. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2000 in the UK (WEA Int’l, 62551).
  17. Re-issued on remastered compact disc in 2003 in Japan (Elektra, WPCR-11603).
  18. Re-packaged with L.A. Woman on 2-for-1 compact disc in Russia (CD-Maximum, CDM1199376).

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