- Two outstanding sides on this exceptionally well-recorded Doors album, with strong Double Plus (A++) sound and reasonably quiet vinyl for a Gold Label pressing
- The sound is present, lively and tonally correct, with Jim Morrison’s baritone reproduced with the weight, presence, space and depth all but missing from the reissues
- It’s tough (not to mention expensive) to find these early Gold Label pressings with this kind of sound and reasonably quiet vinyl
- “Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore were never more lucid… This was a band at its most dexterous, creative, and musically diverse …”
Here is THE BIG SOUND that make Doors records such a thrill to play. Morrison’s vocals sound just right here — full-bodied, breathy and immediate. The transparency makes it possible to easily pick out Bruce Botnick’s double tracking of Morrison’s leads.
For a thrill just drop the needle on Not To Touch The Earth. Halfway through the song the members have sort of a duel — Robbie Krieger wailing on the guitar in one channel, Ray Manzarek pounding on the keyboards in the other, and John Densmore responding with drum fills behind them. On the average copy, the parts get congested and lose their power, but when you can easily pick out each musician, their part will raise the hair on your arms. It’s absolutely chilling, and it will no doubt remind you why you fell in love with The Doors in the first place. Who else can do this kind of voodoo the way that they do?
Check out the piano on Yes The River Knows on side two (such an underrated song!) or the big snare thwacks on Five To One to hear that Hot Stamper magic. The overall sound is airy, open, and spacious — you can really hear INTO the soundfield on a track like Yes The River Knows. The opaque quality that so many pressings of this album suffer from is nowhere to be found here. Not only that, but you will not believe how hard these sides rock.
What these superb sides on Waiting For the Sun have to offer is not hard to hear:
- 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 1968
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments (and effects!) having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
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.
We Love This Music
My favorite of the first three Doors albums (maybe — the first album is awfully good, I might have to rethink that ranking), Waiting for the Sun is imbued with more mystery and lyricism than any of the band’s previous efforts. The album shows them maturing as a band, smoking large amounts of pot and preparing for the even wilder ride of their next opus, the ambitious Soft Parade.
Actually, as I listen to this album it reminds me more and more of the followup. Now that it sounds as good as The Soft Parade (a record I have an amazing pressing of on the rare brown label), I find I’ve gained a new respect for Waiting.
I started playing these albums when I was in high school on my 8-track tape player. When I got seriously into audio sometime in the ’70s, I tried every kind of record I could get my hands on — Brits, Germans, Japanese, originals, reissues — but no matter what I did, I couldn’t find good sounding pressings of The Doors albums. They sounded terrible for the most part and I just assumed the band — like so many ’60s artists — had been poorly recorded.
Then in the early ’80s the MoFi of the first album came out. It sounded amazing to me (at the time). Ten or so years later the DCC pressing came along and murdered it.
Now we’ve come full circle — back to the real thing. I — and no doubt you — found out the hard way: there is no substitute for a vintage pressing.
What We’re Listening For on Waiting for the Sun
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer — The Door’s go-to guy Bruce Botnick in this case — worth his salt would put them.
- 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, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also 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 instruments.
The Track Listing tab above will take you to a select song breakdown for each side, with plenty of What to Listen For (WTLF) advice.
Hello, I Love You
Not To Touch The Earth
Listen to the hard rockin’ duel between the keyboards (left channel) and the guitar (right channel) in the middle of the song. Morrison is screaming is head off and Densmore is really slamming on the drums. There’s a HUGE amount of information in the grooves there, and only the best copies will be open and spacious enough to not get a bit congested.
Summer’s Almost Gone
On a Hot Stamper copy, this song is tubey magical analog at its best — warm, sweet, rich, and full-bodied.
The Unknown Soldier
My Wild Love
We Could Be So Good Together
This song is a bit midrangy on every last copy we’ve played, but on a Hot Stamper copy it still can sound wonderful.
Yes, The River Knows
This song is the best test for transparency and bass definition on side two. You should be able to hear the bassist really pulling on the strings and sliding his fingers up and down the fretboard.
Five to One
In his review of the 2007 reissue, Sal Cinquemani of Slant wrote “Despite the fact that Morrison was becoming a self-destructing mess, Krieger, Ray Manzarek and John Densmore were never more lucid – perhaps to compensate. This was a band at its most dexterous, creative, and musically diverse …”
With the massive success of the single “Light My Fire” and their initial two albums, L.A.’s the Doors quickly built a sizable reputation for edgy, often over-the-top musical drama. Perhaps wary of stereotyping, or simply worn out from their grueling early success, the band took a decided left turn into softer sounds here, from the pop-drenched “Hello, I Love You” to the flamenco guitar wash of “Spanish Caravan.” Even gentle ballads (by the band’s standards, anyway) were a part of the Doors’ new sensibility, as witnessed by “Love Street” and “Summer’s Almost Gone.”
But lest one think the band had gone a little too soft, the antiwar diatribe “The Unknown Soldier,” the edgy “Five to One,” and the deliciously strange “Not to Touch the Earth” were there to remind listeners that even if the band had mellowed a bit, they were still a long way from Jay and the Americans.