Tag Archives: The Doors

The Sparkling Black By Aura Blaze Channels The Feel Good Music of Space Rock

8 Jun

Aura Blaze’s album The Sparkling Black carries all the elements of space rock into 2019 with a cadence that is unreal. Set to release June 21 in the intentional timing around the beginning of the Summer Solstice, the brainchild of this operation Rhode Rachel has thought of everything. From the beginning of the album setting the foundation of their out of world sound and the story of their music space, it makes listeners think they are in an observatory museum with those audio headphones prepared to consume the facts and nuances of a world unknown. The middle of the album shifts around with the musical varieties and the heavy rock influence as well. It forces listeners to shift what they were listening to earlier in the album to adapt to the heavy, but almost orchestra  sort of rock. The perfect blend of new age and futuristic rock and the influences of classic rock make The Sparkling Black more than a masterpiece.

For more listening: Good While It Lasted

Turn Out the Light – Ray Manzarek

23 May
Ray Manzarek

Ray Manzarek

I was shocked when I heard Ray Manzarek passed away earlier this week. Really shocked. Still sort-of shocked. As I was listening to some musicians reflect on the tremendous career of the former Doors’ keyboardist, I tried to understand why I was so surprised. He was 74. In 2013 that is young, but he did fight a long battle with cancer. I think my shock was a product of a Manzarek-Krieger concert I saw at the NYCB Theater at Westbury in 2011. I had seen them once before with my father and brother when Manzarek and Robby Krieger went by the moniker Riders on the Storm. Considering that Riders on the Storm sounds like a cheesy cover band, it is probably a good thing the formers Doors’ members chose a band name of their last names.

Not many people know (or can envision) that The Doors played Westbury Music Fair (the former name of the current NYCB Theater). The Doors, one of the most celebrated and influential rock bands to come out of the 1960s, played a small venue less than a 5k from my house. Manzarek and Krieger celebrated their grand return to Westbury by recreating the set list from their April, 1968 show. It was electric. At the conclusion of the effervescent concert, the band played “Light My Fire.” Here is what I wrote about it back in 2011.

“Think of everything you love about The Doors – the energy, sexiness, ruthlessness, originality, togetherness – and throw it into a pot of boiling liveliness and love. Let that boil for around a 20-minute epic performance of “Light My Fire” that neared mystical levels and you have a great performance. Manzarek stood up from his stool, kicked it over, and swiftly put his right foot on the keyboard! 72 years old, my ass.”

That’s why I am still so surprised. His vivaciousness was striking. His effusive passion for the music was alive and well. While Jim Morrison was the soul of The Doors, Ray Manzarek was the mad genius behind the scenes concocting keyboard riffs on his Vox Continental. But when he got out on stage, it was clear that Manzarek was in love with the music the band was creating. If you have been listening to any of the eulogies of Manzarek over the past few days, I am sure you have heard words like “genius” and “master.” Sometimes these words are thrown around loosely. In the case of Manzarek, though, it would be unwise to understate his musical ability and perspicacity. Every member of the Doors was supremely talented. That is one reason why the band created keen, genre-bending music that appealed to the masses and maintained its canny flavor. But, if it weren’t for Manzarek’s proficiency with the breathy and psychedelic Vox Continental combo organ, low-pitched keyboard bass, and other keys, we may not be speaking about the Doors.

I include “Light My Fire” not because it is my favorite Doors song (that title is reserved for “Roadhouse Blues” or “Waiting for the Sun”) but because of the renowned organ intro. It is arguably one of the best known keyboard riffs ever. It is a riff of pure afflatus. While this may sound overly simplistic, there is just something so introductory about it. Without the riff, the song would not have the same potency. Manzarek’s work on keys on “Light My Fire” was a microcosm for how much he meant to the The Doors. As the elder statesman of the band, Manzarek also acted as an intellectual and sagacious force.

In the wise words of the Doors (from “When The Music’s Over” off of Strange Days):

So when the music’s over 
When the music’s over, yeah 
When the music’s over 
Turn out the lights

Trivia Answers For the Weary

20 Aug

Give this man some answers! Just to be clear, I did manipulate this cartoon, but all the credit obviously goes to the creator who is listed on the side of the cartoon. Still, this suited dude really does want answers, and how can I possibly say no to the desert businessman? Well, I can’t. How about some answers?

Wait! You have not tried your luck at the questions yet? No fear. Follow this link.

1.) In The Doors’ “Touch Me” Jim Morrison concludes the instrumental at the end with these three words. What are they? And, because this is the easy question, I will provide an audio clue.

“Stronger than dirt.” Yes, that is what Jim Morrison utters at the end of “Touch Me.” But why did Morrison mumble the AJAX advertisement slogan in the song. Were they paid to do it? The Doors, brought to you by AJAX, where you can just touch the dirt right off the shirt. Does Morrison sound like a guy who would have allowed his music to slip into the hands of advertisers? Absolutely, not. Morrison says “Stronger than Dirt” to express his disappointment with his other band members, who apparently were considering an offer from Buick for the use of “Light My Fire” in a commercial. Obviously, Morrison did not approve of this money-making scheme and it fell through. And, because of it all, we get this nice easter egg for trivia questions to be formed around! Every answer choice got a vote, which means that I am doing my job well, and that somebody thought he said “Robbie’s a Jerk” which is kind of funny.

2.) Woodstock, baby. That Jimi Hendrix finish was mind-boggling. But, man, who was the act that went on right before him. Uhh…?

This is one of those questions where you think you should know the answer, but then you realize you have absolutely no clue. The weird thing about this festival was the times when acts went on. Unlike regimented music festivals today, the concert didn’t stop at a reasonable hour. It just went on and on and on. Crosby Still & Nash played at 3:00 a.m., the morning of the last day. The band that opened for Hendrix went on at 7:30 a.m. Hendrix closed the show at 10 a.m., and gave his famous performance to a tired, muddy and dispersed crowd. Who was the band that opened for Hendrix?

Excuse me? The greasers with the corny dance moves? This must be a joke? No, as people woke up after their short power naps, they saw Sha Na Na on stage. I’m sure members of the audience thought that they took the “bad” acid. Sha Na Na performed, and, if it was a doo wop show, it would’ve been looked at as a solid and fun performance. And then it would have been forgotten. But it was WOODSTOCK. Their performance sparked a saying though. He/She was as out of place as Sha Na Na at Woodstock. That pretty much says it all.

3.) Now comes the HARD question. Let’s see if I can stump you guys. Simon and Garfunkel’s “The 59th Street Bridge Song,” otherwise known as “Feelin’ Groovy” was recorded in August of 1966 with what famous Jazz drummer behind the drum kit in the studio?

I’ll admit it, this question was tough. Like damn near impossible. Unless you are familiar with Jazz drummers or the studio recordings of Simon and Garfunkel songs, then this question was not going to yield an educated guess. The answer, though, is Joe Morello. And, here is a drum solo.

60’s Band of the Week: Adrian Pride and The Comfortable Chair

8 Jun

Band/Artist: Adrian Pride (Bernie Schwartz)

Origin: West Coast

Genre: Pop Psychedelic

Name: Adrian Pride was a pseudonym for Bernie Schwartz (not to be confused with actor Tony Curtis who was born Bernard Schwartz) that was created by producer (at the time) Phil Everly of the Everly Brothers. Apparently, people do not like the name Bernie Schwartz.


Like I said above, Adrian Pride was the false name of Bernie Schwartz, a West Coast musician with Psychedelic Pop aspirations. And while Adrian Pride does sound like an awesome, but corny superhero, Schwartz only recorded under the name once. Yes, once. He used Pride for his dreamy meditation “Her Name is Melody,” an apt title for a song that attempts to lure listeners into its constant rhythm, eastern guitar and melodic vocals. This example of psychedelic pop is from 1966 and was produced by The Everly Brothers. Well all you have to do is dream, dream, dream. Right? I couldn’t help it.

Unfortunately, “Her Name is Melody” (and its B-side “I Go To Sleep” – Kinks cover) did not chart and fell off into the realm of psychedelic nuggets of the late 60s. It was picked up by a compilation CD and you can still hear it today if you search for rare psychedelic gems.

After his Adrian Pride phase, Schwartz became one of the vocalists for late 60s band Comfortable Chair, yet another obscure West Coast psychedelic sunshine band. And while The Everly Brothers originally produced Schwartz’s music, Jim Morrison of the Doors found Comfortable Chair and Doors’ drummer John Densmore and Doors’ guitarist Robbie Kreiger happened to produce Comfortable Chair’s first album in 1969. The album went nowhere and the band found no success outside of the sinking late 60’s psychedelic scene.

Adrian Pride, Bernie Schwartz, Comfortable Chair. Schwartz represents a large group of unheard 60’s musicians who were lost in the crowded sea of popular musicians. But you can still hear his music if you search. Here is “Her Name is Melody.”


The Finals – What 1967 Album Will Reign Supreme?

9 Apr

The 1967 Album Tournament has spilled over March and has entered into April, but despite its lasting power it is not going to be around for much longer. That’s right, the finals are among us. And, unlike the droning Butler vs. UCONN Men’s College Basketball Final, I envision a solid match between two deserving albums. Voting for the final round will remain live until Friday, April 15, when the Music Court will crown the winner. Thank you to those who have voted thus far, but your favorite album still needs your votes.

The #1 seed, Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, has not experienced any problems wasting its opponents. It is the perennial 1967 powerhouse. It defeated #5 seed, Disraeli Gears, handily and seems ready for its next challenge. But, will it experience issues going up against the upset winner of the #2 vs #3 battle. In a last second vote to break the tie, #3 seed, Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience , beat The Doors by The Doors and moved on to the finals. Jimi Hendrix vs. The Fab Four. The battle of two psychedelic albums with different sub-genres. What album will bring home the prize. The Beatles’ complex psychedelic masterpiece or Hendrix’s passionate psychedelic blues adventure. It is up to your votes.

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