The problem with being really good is people expect you to get still better! Such was the dilemma for The Doors who released their third album on this day in 1968, Waiting for the Sun. The record was their only #1 album at home and made #3 on Canadian charts (as well as hitting the UK top 20 for the first time) and went on to sell nine million copies. However, many felt it a let-down despite having the massive single “Hello, I Love You” on it. that song was their second chart-topper in both the U.S. and Canada. It was joined on the 45 racks by the challenging, anti-war anthem “The Unknown Soldier“, a song which perfectionist producer Paul Rothschild required 130 takes of to get right!
The Doors were nothing if not workaholics back then; it was their third album in just 18 months and they’d been touring fairly constantly through the time as well. And not only did they put together this album, Jim had another original concept for Side two – a 17” rambling piece called “Celebration of the Lizard”. They couldn’t get it quite right in the studio, so they dropped that and substituted five other songs but the Lizard would return, in a 1970 live album. Curiously the actual song “Waiting for the Sun” was not on the record; it came a couple of years later on Morrison Hotel. A massive hit single; a searing anti-War anthem and as Rolling Stone put it, “the group is, as always, tight.” Still, no one seemed all that happy with the release. Although Britain’s NME liked it, calling ”The Unknown Soldier” a standout and saying “all (songs) on side two are gems”, North American reviews weren’t as wildly enthusiastic . Rolling Stone at the time said while “it isn’t really terrible, it isn’t particularly exciting either” and suggested “Morrison could use some levity occasionally.” Years later, allmusic noted how high expectations were for it after their first two albums and think the “songwriting (was) no as impressive as it had been” although it was still “quite enjoyable” as an entity. They’d end up rebounding with their next trio of albums which led us to Jim Morrison’s death, also on this day, in 1971.