A concise best-of in all but name, albeit with added Johnny Depp.
Paul Whitelaw 2010
It has often been said that Jim Morrison’s untimely death at the age of 27 was the best career move he ever made. It was certainly a lucrative detour as far as his record labels are concerned.
Since Morrison popped his snakeskin boots in 1971, The Doors’ back catalogue – consisting of six albums recorded between 1967 and 1971 – has been reissued and repackaged several times, and compiled into no fewer than 12 best-of compilations. Add in the various live recordings posthumously released via the band’s own website, and there are now over twice as many Doors albums in existence than there were during their lifetime.
And sing Hosanna, here comes another one. When You’re Strange: Songs From the Motion Picture is the soundtrack to a feature-length documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Tom DiCillo. A concise best-of in all but name, it contains 14 of The Doors’ most popular songs, only three of which appear in previously unreleased forms.
So why should you buy it, especially if you already own this material? Well, do you own a Doors compilation containing snippets of Morrison’s poetry recited by Johnny Depp?
The narrator of DiCillo’s film, Depp crops up between virtually every track, solemnly intoning Morrison’s imagistic ramblings to a backing of lapping waves and whistling winds. At best, his contributions lend the album a continuous flow, although at times it sounds more like a demented relaxation tape being constantly interrupted by The Doors.
Depp’s contributions are, however, brief; likewise the snippets of interviews with Morrison and his bandmates. The music itself, it goes without saying, is great, especially the propulsive live version of Break on Through (To the Other Side) from the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970, and the infamous performance of Light My Fire from The Ed Sullivan Show in 1967.
But, completists aside, no one really needs this curio. Newcomers are advised to seek one of the many available compilations, all of which contain the same songs as you’ll find here, but crucially without interruption from Captain Jack Sparrow.