LIKE THE publication of the book "No One Here Gets Out Alive" in 1980, Oliver Stone's new film, "The Doors," which opens today, may pique interest in the band's work. Here's a quick guide to much of what's available in record stores:
"The Doors" (1967): From the full-throttle "Break on Through" to the erotic "Light My Fire" and the Oedipal shock of "The End," this remains the best individual example of the blend of rock and aural theater that the Doors offered. A classic that holds up.
"Strange Days" (1967), "Waiting for the Sun" (1968), "The Soft Parade" (1969): Each of these follow-ups had their moments, from hit singles like "People Are Strange" and "Touch Me" to sonic explorations such as "Running Blue" from "The Soft Parade." But they're generally inconsistent and indulgent, devoid the captivating freshness of "The Doors."
"Morrison Hotel" (1970): This gutsy, lusty blowout was a welcome change of pace and proof that the Doors didn't suffer for keeping the intellect in check while letting Jim Morrison work up some maximum mojo.
"Absolutely Live" (1970), "Alive, She Cried" (1983), "Live at the .. Hollywood Bowl" (1987): Because of the heavy visual element -- seeing Morrison sing live generally was more interesting than hearing him -- there really hasn't been a definitive Doors concert souvenir. Of these, "Alive, She Cried" is far and away the best.
"Thirteen" (1970), "Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine" (1972), "The Best of the Doors" (1973), "Greatest Hits" (1980), "The Best of the Doors" (1987): This may sound like heresy to the faithful, but the Doors -- despite their heavy concepts -- were really most satisfying as a singles band. "Greatest Hits" reignited the group's torch in the '80s, but the most recent best-of is digitally mastered and well-chosen, the essential album for your collection.
* "LA Woman" (1971): This comeback effort boasts a settled and focused quality, even in the raucous title track, that bode well for the future.
"Other Voices" (1971), "Full Circle" (1972): The remaining Doors made a go of it after Morrison's death but, despite some nice musical moments, couldn't replace the vision and personality their wild-child singer infused in his performances.
"American Prayer" (1978): Morrison's poetry set to music by his former bandmates. Not as much fun as a Doors album, nor as insightful as his disciples would lead you to believe. For diehards only.
* "The Doors: Original Movie Soundtrack" (1991): Smart move by Elektra -- using the original Doors tracks rather than the Val Kilmer-sung tunes from the movie. It features eight Doors favorites, four Morrison poems, the Velvet Underground's "Heroin" and a classical piece. Not bad, but not as focused as other Doors' hits packages.