The Doors: Waiting for the Sun (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)
Rhino / Elektra 2 CD + 1 LP (September 2018)

"Why in hell should I buy another version of Waiting for the Sun when I own so many other versions already?"
- Bruce Botnick, April 2018.

Not a bad question, actually. Because here we are, in the midst of celebrating the Doors as a band, as recording
and performing artists. It's the 50th Anniversary this time around, and surely that calls for a revisiting of the band's
classic albums, in other words: reissues; or does it? What's left in the vaults after the outpouring by Bright
Midnight Archives and the 40th Anniversary CD editions, each series providing a wealth of studio outtakes and
further bonus material? Surely we have had the best of the rest by now?...
Well, let's see what John and Robby, the band management and, most notably, engineer / producer Bruce Botnick
have found under the well settled 50 year old dust this time.

Of major concern are the so called 'Rough Mixes' of 9 of the 11 songs featured on the original album. Are they genuinely
what Botnick is telling us, near masters, lacking the very final touches only, yet interesting and revealing enough? And,
"Who called these dead to dance?", as Jim would come to ask in 'Newborn Awakening'? Well, studio wizard Bruce
Botnick obviously, finder of long lost reels of studio outtakes. And I'm glad that he did.

Although, these alternate mixes may not be very interesting for the casual spectator. They are not that very different
from the final masters. The seasoned listener on the other hand will find what they bargained for, spending cash on
something 'new'. In general, I think it's safe to say that the main gain is 'more Jim'. What I mean is that, in my opinion,
the overall sound and musical tracks of these embryonic mixes is often mushy, less clear than what we're used to,
listening to the legendary baby that saw the light of day in July of 1968. In general, on the majority of the tracks,
the organ and guitar parts are more prominent, in a negative way; too loud. The drums, on the contrary, are struggling,
soft and quiet, lacking the punch of John Densmore's unique trademark style. Yet on a positive note: more prominent,
louder and more powerful than ever before, are Jim's vocals. Stripped from its echoing sound, as if the man is stood right
by your side, especially when listening through a decent set of earphones. Furthermore, the lot is pretty insightful, the
creating process is on display here, and shining it does.

Here are a few of my findings:

Hello, I Love You: an extended outro, and Ray's singing is more prominent;

Summer's Almost Gone: boosts the juxtaposition of the two different piano tracks during the instrumental break;

Spanish Caravan: emphasises the duet between Jim's vocal and the organ during the latter part, after the instrumental
break, with less sonic effects overall;

Love Street: again, a welcome extended ending to the song;

Wintertime Love: goes back to the time of the initial vinyl editions of Waiting for the Sun. On these, as well as on the
first round of CD versions, there was a vocal take differing from the version of later pressings. It's in the way
Morrison sings "trying (so) desperately to be free"... Just compare the song on both CDs in this set to get the idea;

Not to Touch the Earth: is rough indeed, with rather annoying start & stop moments on both the guitar and drum tracks;

Five to One: yields an ear piercing guitar sound in the right hand channel, and there's the very different sounding
"get together one more time" chanting, with the band singing along with Jim.

Raw and exciting are 5 unpublished live cuts, apparently never bootlegged either, and that's when you know: this is
extremely rare and new! ... From a concert in the Danish city of Copenhagen, exactly 50 years ago this evening while
I'm writing this review: September 17th. Cool! Score! But, would it not have been grander to just give us the entire
concert instead of the few songs relevant to the album? It's annoying incompletion once again, echoing the tiny bit
of Matrix Club recordings that came with last year's
The Doors 50th Anniversary box set. A entire difficult episode
in its own right, the much troubled life and times of the Doors' Matrix tapes. But surely the Copenhagen concert as
featured here could have been presented in its recorded entirety?! Not? No, Bruce? Maybe later. Ah!...

Anyway, we should enjoy what's here rather than moan about what isn't. Copenhagen 1968 is a great show, with
Morrison delivering a fiery performance, making up for the disaster he caused a few days earlier in Amsterdam;
missing the gig, being taken away to hospital.

Then of course, lest we not forget the main thing. The reason for this new set being around in the first place.
Waiting for the Sun, the album. Present here on both vinyl and CD, once again newly remastered from the original
stereo master tapes. No mono this time, unlike what came with
The Doors and Strange Days Anniversary sets last
year. Bummer! No less, no more: a bummer! But how great does the album sound! Spectacular I'm sure, for those
owning the latest audio reproducing equipment, as explained in detail by Bruce in the booklet; it must be quite the
trip, an expensive one. But to us 'normal Earthlings' the thing sounds great, yes indeed: better than ever before. It
does make one wonder: will technology be able to make these 'old' recordings sound better still, come 10, 20
years into the future? Probably, yes. But not to my aging ears. What we have here is fabulous enough
already, so thank you Bruce Botnick!

In packaging this revamped
Waiting for the Sun, the band & co opted to revisit the concept of the 50th Anniversary
set of
The Doors, published in January of last year. How nice and neat do these two fit together, side by side on the
shelf; twins, for now. It reminds of for instance the super deluxe Led Zeppelin box sets, or even Metallica's, who
are also producing Anniversary editions of their classic back catalogue. And this exactly is where the Doors got it
wrong, with a missed opportunity to create some sort of unity:
Waiting for the Sun is not the follow up to The Doors;
Strange Days holds the rights to that particular title. And surely, yes there was an Anniversary edition of the band's
sophomore album, but that didn't come packaged the way the others do. What a shame. What a pity. Too bad.
It's hopes up for future 50th Anniversary sets but there will forever be the gap where
Strange Days was due to sit.

Mixed feelings.
The Doors: Waiting for the Sun is the stuff legends are made of. In honouring its status
a bust was erected, but not the grand statue it so deserves.

Kevin Chiotis for the Doors Quarterly Magazine Online - September 2018