FROM THE 2011 ARCHIVES: A collection of live Doors discs, covering almost all of the band’s officially released live albums. One release we didn’t bother with is Boot Yer Butt, an expansive 4CD collection of Doors bootlegs put together by drummer John Densmore. The source material is shoddy and was designed – I’m guessing – to neuter bootleg sales… like back when Frank Zappa started releasing the bootlegger’s actual audience recordings and artwork himself. I’ve never even been able to listen to it all, so I can’t tell you much about it, except, you should be listening to all of the ones posted here before you even bother with it. We’ve also got our Doors archive up and running again; 1967’s The Doors, finally remixed and at the proper speed (HERE), Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970 (HERE), Rock Is Dead Sessions – February 25th, 1969 (HERE), 13 Instrumentals (HERE), L.A. Woman: The Workshop Sessions (HERE), Perception Bonus Tracks (HERE), and More Studio Bonus Tracks (HERE). Track lists are in comments.
The first posthumous live Doors LP was most welcomed back in 1983. The random gathering of odds & ends didn’t have much rhyme or reason, but anemic long-time fans weren’t picky. The band doctored the tapes with some overdubs, since they already had to edit Morrison’s x-rated ad-libs from this LP’s highlight – a killer version of Van Morrison’s “Gloria.” It’s hard to believe we were all so innocent we couldn’t hear the unedited tapes until 1997’s The Doors Box Set. When the CD era finally arrived, Alive She Cried was packaged with Absolutely Live for the 2CD release, In Concert. At Amazon, HERE.
A short, barely 23-minute LP (and that’s including the odd single edit of “Light My Fire,” taken from the same full-length version that’s already on the album). The purpose behind the release was to co-promote the new VHS video of the same name. Why the unnecessary brevity of the LP is anyone’s guess. Despite what virtually every review for this LP says, only two of the Hollywood Bowl recordings (“Light My Fire” & “Unknown Soldier”) wound up on the 1991 live comp, In Concert. The Hollywood Bowl show would eventually get a proper release in 2012 (below). At Amazon, HERE.
A 2CD compilation pulling together all of the tracks from The Doors’ only official live albums, Absolutely Live (1970) and Alive She Cried, as well as two cuts from Live At The Hollywood Bowl. To spur sales of the newfangled invention called the CD (featuring music any Doors fan already had), a then-unreleased version of “The End” was added. All tracks were recorded in Los Angeles, Boston, New York, Philly, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Copenhagen, so – except for Copenhagen – virtually all of this material has been included on later, full show releases (in unedited or undubbed form). Absolutely Live (HERE) was eventually issued independently, also. At Amazon, HERE.
The first of many Doors box sets included three discs of live music. Without A Safety Net is a random selection of live tracks, most of which would appear the following century on the full concert issues on Bright Midnight/Rhino. So, there’s going to be a lot of duplication here if you’ve already got the rest. Check comments for the track listings to see where these tracks were recorded. At Amazon, HERE.
The Doors Box Set (1997)
The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be
It’s the same deal as above. As The Doors Box Set was the first opportunity for the band to dip into their archived tapes, here’s another varied collection of live tracks, interspersed with a few of the World Pacific demos and TV appearances. Check comments for where these tracks are sourced from. At Amazon, HERE.
The third live disc from the box set would become obsolete with the release of 2006’s 6CD box, Live In New York, where most of this material comes from. Regardless of that, this was one spectacular single disc collection when it came out. With a 17-minute “Celebration Of The Lizard” and an 18-minute “The End,” Live In New York boasted some serious heft. And, for the first time, we finally got to hear Jim’s x-rated ramblings in “Gloria” (first hinted at on Alive She Cried). Of course, “Gloria” wasn’t recorded in New York, but who cared? (I’ve read that a few other tracks may be from other venues, also.) A fantastic stand alone live Doors disc… just ignore the accuracy of the title. At Amazon, HERE.
The first of the 21st century Doors albums, coming with the union between The Doors’ own label, Bright Midnight, and the exclusive Limited Edition mavens, Rhino Handmade. As a result, the 2CD Live In Detroit (May 8, 1970 @ Cobo Hall) is no longer officially available, having exhausted its limited run. The band was recording L.A. Woman at the time of this show – a unique one as Morrison extended the set list to include a bunch of standards and blues numbers, in what manager Danny Sugarman says is “easily, the longest Doors set ever performed.” (whether that’s actually true or not.) At Amazon, HERE.
The first of three amazing 2CD sets that capture the band’s 24 hour residency at The Aquarius Theatre in Los Angeles. At the time, Elektra wanted more live material, but The Doors had a problem. Since Jim Morrison’s Miami bust for indecent exposure in March, ’69, the band’s live dates were mostly canceled and they couldn’t book a tour. (Funny, these days that controversy would only make them more in-demand.) So the idea was hatched to play a small L.A. venue (July 21, 1969), and these tapes were born. Another Rhino Handmade release that’s officially out of print. At Amazon, HERE.
The Second Performance is nearly an hour longer than the first matinée show (and about as long as the Detroit show), and finds the band in fine form. There’s a lot of variety here, too, as the guys seem intent on offering up some (previously unreleased) live titles, like “Five To One,” “Blue Sunday,”, “Touch Me,” “Gloria” and others. Because of the venue’s intimacy, there’s plenty of chatter between Morrison and the crowd, but Jimbo appears sober so there’s not much in the way of outrageous pronouncements. Another dead Rhino. At Amazon, HERE.
Always thinking, producer Paul Rothchild figured that since everything was already set up, why not record a third morning after performance (July 22, 1969) – without an audience – before the stage was torn down to prepare for the Aquarius’ evening performance of Hair. Smart thinking. Except that Jim didn’t really want to be there… and you can tell. But, this is such a different kind of show for the band, it remains a must-hear. Since Morrison thrived on audiences, he seems a bit lost for inspiration in the empty venue. After the first half of the recording, his disinterest spins him towards raunchier material. This show is the source of the original, x-rated live version of “Gloria,” found on Alive She Cried and Live In New York. At Amazon, HERE.
If I’d spent any time with this, I’d tell you all about it. This was the last of The Doors’ live discs issued in a limited run by Rhino Handmade, so it’s out of print and very expensive at Amazon, HERE.
Live In Boston features two complete shows, an abbreviated matinée and an extended evening show. And Morrison’s bombed for both, slurring his words, not bothering with some lyrics and, by the end of the second show, seemingly pretty disinterested in what’s going on. Unfortunately, these shows are also sonically challenged, so it’s a difficult listen unless you’re the type accustomed to bootleg atmospherics. It’s really not that bad, just not grade-A like previous Bright Midnights. As a result, however, I haven’t spent much time with this one either. 3CDs at Amazon, HERE.
The famed Matrix tapes (March 7 & 10, 1967), the first unofficial live recordings of The Doors, finally available after decades of abusive mixes have littered the web. This isn’t all the material recorded, so it’s more of a best-of The Matrix, with somewhat improved sound quality. This is Morrison & Co. before the adulation (“Light My Fire” wasn’t a hit yet) and the audience, when you can even hear them, seems barely interested. Which might explain why bands get so weird when they get big. Here’s Morrison busting his balls to make an impression… and no one cares. Two years later he’s showing up so drunk he can barely sing… and he’s treated like a god. What message would your fragile rock star ego take from that? Especially when it’s reinforced night after night? At Amazon, HERE.
An abbreviated show from Pittsburgh (May, 2, 1970). Besides the less than spectacular sound (a touch muddy, not bad, not great), Live In Pittsburgh‘s few audio issues are forgivable for the performances, which are solid throughout. The band sounds nimble and attentive, while Morrison is pretty alert and on his game… two months after his drunken fiasco in Miami. This show was recorded for possible inclusion on Absolutely Live, but nary a track was used. This release – short enough to fit on a single disc – might be better suited to the hard-core. I haven’t spent much time on this one, but… your mileage may vary. At Amazon, HERE.
The complete run of the band’s four sets over two nights at the Felt Forum/Madison Square Garden (January 17-18, 1970) on 6 CDs. If you want to study the Doors live, this is where you go, as it covers a lot of ground with exceptional sound quality. These reels were the source of many performances found on Absolutely Live, so you already know some highlights. Enough can’t be said, really. There is an overdub you should know about… when guest John Sebastian came out for an encore, his harmonica was off-mic. So, for this release, Sebastian came into the studio in 2009 and replicated his performance. Before you cry foul, however, the band posted the original versions on the Rhino website for buyers to download. Those version are included here. At Amazon, HERE.
The newest of the live series is this 2CD set recorded in Canada. Another whose sonics are not perfect, but are not awful. I, however, haven’t seriously listened to it in detail yet… sorry. Some guide, huh? At Amazon, HERE.
Finally… a refurbished, complete recording from The Hollywood Bowl. There’s a new video, too, if you follow the links and poke around at Amazon.