Although the Doors were really only together for four years, releasing six albums between 1967 and 1971, their impact and legacy is as lasting as any in the history of rock, and no band before or since has really sounded anything like them. Driven by Jim Morrison's frequently bombastic and sophomoric but always utterly fascinating take on the colliding orbits of sex and death, the Doors managed to sound big, dangerous, and edgy while still retaining a commercial viability, placing singles high on the pop charts through every stylistic phase of the group's existence. This concise set hits all the absolute essentials, and each of these 20 tracks is a classic, from the early mission statement "Break on Through (To the Other Side)" to the unambiguous stomp of "L.A. Woman" (for the record, the chant of "Mr. Mojo Risin'" was intended as a deliberate anagram of the name Jim Morrison). What sometimes gets lost in the larger-than-life myth of Morrison was his still refreshing directness with love songs, and "Love Me Two Times," "Hello, I Love You," "Touch Me," and "Don't You Love Her Madly" all retain a surprisingly tender strength and honesty even some 40 years after they were recorded. Then, of course, there's "The End," still one of the most harrowing moments in the history of rock (the mix included here is the edit version from the film Apocalypse Now), and the song that best illustrates Morrison's over-the-top but somehow appropriately balanced sense of how theater, drama, psychology, sex, death, pop poetry, and rock all merge into a single unavoidable spectacle. No band has ever done it better, or had the courage to even try.
Steve Leggett, Rovi