- An outstanding copy of the band’s sophomore release, with solid Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last
- This vintage pressing is well balanced, yet big and lively, with such wonderful clarity in the mids and highs as well as deep punchy bass and a big open and spacious soundfield
- Demo Quality sound for so many classics: When The Music’s Over, Moonlight Drive, Love Me Two Times and more
- “… if The Beatles had Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club and The Beach Boys had Pet Sounds, then The Doors’ answer was Strange Days… It’s the perfect introduction to a perfectly strange album.”
- On side one, a mark makes 5 moderately loud pops, followed by 15 moderately light and 5 light stitches. Another mark makes 4 light ticks, followed by 3 very light ticks during track 3, Love Me Two Times.
If you’re looking to demonstrate just how good 1967 All Tube Analog sound can be, this copy will can do just that.
It’s spacious, sweet and positively dripping with ambience. Talk about Tubey Magic, the liquidity of the sound here is positively uncanny. This is vintage analog at its best, so full-bodied and relaxed you’ll wonder how anyone seriously contemplated trying to improve it.
This is the sound of Tubey Magic. No recordings will ever be made like this again, and no CD will ever capture what is in the grooves of this record. There are lots of CDs of this album, but those of us in possession of a working turntable and a good collection of vintage vinyl couldn’t care less.
Botnick Is The Man
This album is of course engineered by the legendary Bruce Botnick. The best pressings give you the kind of low-end punch and midrange presence you hear on The Doors’ and Love’s first albums (when you play the right gold label originals of course). Botnick engineered them all, and they are hard to beat for recordings from ’66 and ’67.
All tube from start to finish, the energy captured on these Hot Stampers has to be heard to be believed. Not to mention the fact that the live-in-the-studio musicians are swimming in natural ambience, with instruments leaking from one mic to another, and most of them bouncing back and forth off the studio walls to boot.
What the best sides of Strange Days have to offer is not hard to hear:
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1967
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
Who Knew The First Two Doors Albums Were So Well Recorded?
Strange Days and L.A. Woman are the two Doors albums that rarely sound good on vinyl. You rarely see top quality Hot Stamper copies of either on the site, simply because most pressings leave a lot to be desired, and they sure don’t come cheap these days, not in audiophile playing condition anyway.
Few audiophiles (and practically no members of the general public) have any idea how well recorded these albums are because most pressings do such a poor job of getting the energy of the master tape in their grooves.
Most early pressings are opaque, flat, thin, veiled, compressed and lifeless. They sound exactly the way so many old rock records sound: like an old rock record. The Butterfly and Small Red E labels are so contemptibly thin and harsh they are not worth the vinyl they’re pressed on. When Elektra sought to reissue these Doors records in the ’70s they obviously had no interest in preserving on vinyl the superb quality of the sound of the original tapes.
The Gold CDs Hoffman mastered for DCC are wonderful, by far the best I have heard The Doors in digital. The early CDs from the ’80s are of course a joke, as flat and thin sounding as the reissued LPs. There’s a lot of crap out there, folks. If you want to find good sound for The Doors albums, you clearly have your work cut out for you.
What We’re Listening For on Strange Days
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
- Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
- Then: presence and immediacy. The musicians aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Size and Space
One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.
Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.
We often have to go back and downgrade the copies that we were initially impressed with in light of such a standout pressing. Who knew the recording could be that huge, spacious and three dimensional? We sure didn’t, not until we played the copy that had those qualities, and that copy might have been number 8 or 9 in the rotation.
Think about it: if you had only seven copies, you might not have ever gotten to hear a copy that sounded that open and clear. And how many even dedicated audiophiles would have more than one of two clean vintage pressings with which to do a shootout? These kinds of records are expensive and hard to come by in good shape. Believe us, we know whereof we speak when it comes to getting hold of vintage pressings of Classic Rock albums.
One further point needs to be made: most of the time these very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy do what this copy can, it’s an entirely different – and dare I say unforgettable — listening experience.
You’re Lost Little Girl
Love Me Two Times
People Are Strange
My Eyes Have Seen You
I Can’t See Your Face in My Mind
When the Music’s Over
… overall it’s a very successful continuation of the themes of their classic album. Besides the hit “Strange Days,” highlights included the funky “Moonlight Drive,” the eerie “You’re Lost Little Girl,” and the jerkily rhythmic “Love Me Two Times,” which gave the band a small chart single.
… if The Beatles had Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club and The Beach Boys had Pet Sounds, then The Doors’ answer was Strange Days. The liner notes of the 40th-anniversary edition of the album detail how, in a pre-online-leak world, engineer Bruce Botnick snagged an early copy of Sgt. Pepper’s and played it for The Doors, inspiring the band, along with producer Paul Rothchild, to invent new methods of studio recording. This experimentation can be heard in the very first notes of the title track, as Ray Manzarek’s spacey keyboards set the tone for Morrison’s eerie, distorted warning, “Strange days have found us.” It’s the perfect introduction to a perfectly strange album.
Rolling Stone (courtesy of Wikipedia)
Rolling Stone Magazine opined that the album “has all the power and energy of the first LP, but is more subtle, more intricate and much more effective” and argued that the “whole album, individual songs and especially the final track are constructed in the five parts of tragedy. Like Greek drama, you know when the music’s over because there is catharsis.”