The Singles Box Japan Edition is the CD reproduction of all vinyl singles released by The Doors between 1967 and 1972. As four of 18 US singles were never released in Japan, the singles box includes 14 singles. Strictly speaking, this is the first time 17 of the 28 tracks are released on the CD format and outside of Japan.
Since all the original singles were released by Nippon Victor (now Victor Entertainment Inc), the faithful reproduction of them has certain limitations, but we have managed to use the Elektra Blue Guitar-man labels that were used exclusively in Japan.
The first Doors single, ‘Break On Through’ b/w ‘End Of The Night’ (EK-45611) with the picture sleeve, was released on 4 January 1967 by Elektra Records in the US. Monaural on both sides, the single was released in the UK, Germany and France but unfortunately never in Japan.
So let us discuss chronologically the records released by Nippon Victor, who had the distribution rights for the Elektra label.
1) ‘Light My Fire’ b/w ‘The Crystal Ship’ (JET-1778 / released 25 July 1967)
The debut single in Japan. As with the US pressing, ‘Light My Fire’ is the edited short version, and both sides were monaural. The hand-tinted picture sleeve of the famous early promotional photograph shows its age, and was used for the original issue, released before the single became number one in the US on 29 July 1967. After the single became a US chart hit, it was subsequently reissued in Japan on 25 August of the same year, sporting the same photograph as the first album on the sleeve (included in this set as the bonus sleeve).
However, the single did not become a huge hit in Japan, and The Doors did not become a top band immediately. It would take another year for the band’s popularity to fully flourish.
It must be said that the Japanese title ‘Heart Ni Hi Wo Tsukete’ is arguably one of the best titles in the history of foreign music in Japan.
2) ‘People Are Strange’ b/w ‘Unhappy Girl’ (JET-1797 / released 25 November 1967)
The single from the second album Strange Days was a US smash hit, climbing the chart at number 12. The opening line of the song ‘when you’re strange’ became the title of the 2010 Doors documentary film, and the Japanese title of the song Maboroshi No Sekai was used for the film as well. Both songs from the single are monaural mixes.
3) ‘Love Me Two Times’ b/w ‘Moonlight Drive’ (JET-1816 / released 25 February 1968)
The second single from Strange Days got to number 25 position in the US chart - so far, three consecutive A-sides were written by Robby Krieger. While both sides on the US original single were monaural and edited short versions, the Japanese pressing used the full length stereo versions from the album.
4) ‘The Unknown Soldier’ b/w ‘We Could Be So Good Together’ (JET-1841 / released 25 June 1968)
The two songs from Waiting For The Sun preceded the album, climbing the US chart to number 39. The controversial promotional film featuring the Jim Morrison shooting scene was aired a number of ties in Japanese TV foreign music programs at the time. Both songs from the single had different mixes from the album versions, and the fact that they are monaural makes the songs even more precious.
5) ‘Hello, I Love You’ b/w ‘Love Street’ (JET-1857 / extra release 5 September 1968)
The single that defined the popularity of The Doors in Japan. The single marked number 20 in the Original Confidence magazine chart, spending 18 weeks and selling 101,950 copies. The annual chart based on Japanese radio station hit charts ranked the single at number 27, a dramatic leap from ‘Light My Fire’s’ number 87 position from the previous year. The single was naturally a US number one hit, and even the B-side ‘Love Street’ ranked at number 81 in the US Cash Box magazine.
6) ‘Touch Me’ b/w ‘Wild Child’ (JET-1880 / released 10 February 1969)
The band’s biggest hit in Japan. Although the single was prevented from being number one radio hit by The Beatles’ ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’, it stayed in the top ten for over two months, and sold 113,500 copies. It successfully charted at number seven in the Japanese annual chart. The Music Life magazine readers’ poll ranked Ray Manzarek as the 6th instrumentalist, Jim Morrison as the 4th male vocalist, and the band was number 3 after The Beatles and The Rolling Stones – it was the peak of the band’s popularity. It was rather ironic, considering there was a wave of anti-Doors in their homeland following the Miami incident. Meanwhile, ‘Touch Me’ has a different mix from the album.
7) ‘Tell All The People’ b/w ‘Easy Ride’ (JET-1909 / released 25 August 1969)
All four singles from the band’s fourth album Soft Parade had A-sides written by Robby Krieger, this being the third. The single got to number 57, and climbed up to number 11 in the Bunka Hoso radio All Japan Pop 20 chart.
Incidentally in February, around the time when ‘Touch Me’ was released in Japan, ‘Wishful Sinful’ b/w ‘Who Scared You’ (EK-45656) was released in the US, and charted at number 44. The single was never released in Japan, but was included in the 4-track EP Tell All The People (SJET-533).The B-side track ‘Easy Ride’ was written by Jim Morrison, who suggested the song to be the A-side.
8) ‘Runnin’ Blue’ b/w ‘Do It’ (JET-1926 / released 25 November 1969)
The opening line that mourns the late Otis Redding was reputedly written and sung by Morrison just two weeks after Redding’s death in December 1967. The single got to number 64 in the US chart. While it was never a hit in Japan, the band was voted number four in the Music Life magazine readers’ poll, with Manzarek, Morrison and John Densmore making their entrance with their individual roles.
The B-side track ‘Do It’ is the album version, featuring the intro rap by Densmore and Manzarek which was cut from the US single.
9)’Land Ho!’ b/w ‘You Make Me Real’ (JET-1966 / released 25 May 1970)
This song written by Krieger was probably considered the most commercial and single-worthy song from the Morrison Hotel album, and was released for the Japanese market only. The song fades out earlier, which makes it a shorter and a rare version indeed. The single was released in the US backed with ‘Roadhouse Blues’ (EK-45685), both tracks monaural, and reached number 50 in the national chart. ‘Roadhouse Blues’ was originally planned as the B- side for the Japanese pressing too.
As ‘You Make Me Real’ is the stereo album version, you do not hear Morrison saying “Come on!” in the intro.
10) ’Love Her Madly’ b/w ‘(You Need Meat) Don’t Go No Further’ (JET-2057 / 25 June 1971)
The hit single that marked the return of The Doors in shape, both in the US and in Japan, where it became number 40 in the 1971 annual foreign music chart. Like the original issue of ‘Light My Fire’, the hand tinted band picture sleeve has style. The single was released just eight days before Morrison’s death. The sleeve is well known by fanatics for its typo ‘renbou (face of love)’ which was corrected to ‘henbou (transformation)’ on later pressings.
As the track fades out, the single version is shorter than that of the album, but it is still a few seconds longer than the US original single.
Also, ‘Don’t Go No Further’ on the Japanese single omits the intro counts by Manzarek.
11) ’Riders Of The Storm’ b/w ‘Changeling’ (JET-2070 / released 5 September 1971)
The posthumous single released in Japan, ‘Riders On The Storm’ is popular among collectors for the coolest picture sleeve in the world. The sleeve photograph is said to be taken at a show in Detroit in May 1970. The song is given a Japanese only treatment, and has a longer keyboard solo than the US original single. Both sides are edited versions, but are so well edited that they still retain the characteristics of the songs.
As with ‘Love Her Madly’, this single was a cut from L.A. Woman – both became their biggest hits in a while, entering top 15 in the US chart.
It is well worth noting that the single first appeared in the US hit chart on 3 July 1971, the very day Morrison passed away in Paris.
12) ’Tightrope Ride’ b/w ‘Variety Is The Spice Of Life’ (JET-2097 / released 5 February 1972)
The first single by the new post-Morrison trio version of The Doors. Its highest chart position in the US was number 71 in the Billboard chart. Manzarek sings the lead vocals, with lyrics mourning the demise of Morrison. This song surely is the major turning point in the history of The Doors, and was given the CD treatment for the first time on The Doors Box Set in 1997. However, the version presented here is the single edit.
Krieger sings lead for the first time on a single record on ‘Variety Is The Spice Of Life’. The same month saw the second single from Other Voices, ‘Ships w/ Sails’ b/w ‘In The Eye Of The Sun’ (EK-45768), released in the US, but it did not see a Japanese release. Since the two albums after Morrison’s death have not been officially released on CD, four songs out of the three subsequent singles are on CD for the first time.
13) ’Get Up And Dance’ b/w ‘Treetrunk’ (JET-2136 / released 5 September 1972)
This single preceded the band’s last album Full Circle, with an A-side pop and joyous number featuring Chris Etheridge on bass and female chorus. This single represents the final and biggest shift change in The Doors history.
You can see the new percussion and rhythm guitar player Bobby Ray Henson on the sleeve. At the time, The Doors would play shows as a 5-piece, featuring Henson and bass player Jack Conrad.
The B side number ‘Treetrunk’ was the last single-only song which was not available on CD. The song was recorded during Other Voices sessions with Conrad on bass, but according to Krieger, it was too commercial to include in the album, thus making its first appearance on this single.
14) ’The Mosquito’ b/w ‘It Slipped My Mind’ (JET-2150 / released 25 November 1972)
Another single from Full Circle, and the only Doors single on which Krieger sang lead on the A-side. ‘The Mosquito’ is the monaural edit version (the album version was released on CD in a compilation album that came out in 2000).
This song was the biggest hit for the post-Morrison era Doors, achieving success not in the US but in West Germany (25th position), South America and Turkey where the single was a smash hit. Each country had its own cover of the song.
On the same month, the last single in the US ‘The Piano Bird’ b/w ‘Good Rockin’’ (EK-45825) saw its release.
The Doors achieved constant success with both albums and singles, but when you look at the band from the singles point of view, we must take our hats off to Krieger as the guitarist and the composer of the band. Out of 14 singles / 28 songs, 19 were his compositions (including co-writing credits), approximately two thirds of the total number, including two big hits that will be remembered as the rock evergreen classics.
This highly unique compilation reminds you of the fact that The Doors was never a Jim Morrison one-man band.