X / The Doors: “Soul Kitchen”
The Doors (1967)
There aren’t too many more pompous bands of the ’60s than the Doors (oh yes, there are a few, but Jim Morrison gave them all a run for their money); conversely, X was one of the less pompous bands of the ’80s (unless you consider any attempt to write poetic lyrics, as they sometimes did, as being pompous). But regardless of their differences in pomposity, both bands sound great doing “Soul Kitchen,” the Doors song from their 1967 debut album, The Doors. It’s one of the Doors’ more concise pop songs, and Morrison’s self-important lyrics didn’t get in the way of this one (which is mostly true for that entire debut album, with the very notable exception of the bloated, “The End”).
X took that already relatively streamlined song and stripped it down even further on their debut album, 1980’s Los Angeles, with a sped-up, bare-bones punk attack that does nothing to lessen the sensual nature of the song. If anything, it focuses it down to an even more raw, pent-up emotion, full of desperate necessity. It’s my favorite cover of the song (other notable versions were done by Echo and the Bunnymen and Patti Smith) because it does something completely different with it, yet stays true to the song, whereas those other versions tend toward a more slavish reading, not doing a whole lot to change up the sound or mood. X makes it their own, and it fits in seamlessly on Los Angeles.
Two great debut albums, cooking up two great versions of “Soul Kitchen.”