Enough with all the rumors surrounding Jim Morrison’s demise all over the internet, the real news is The Doors’ new three CD live set, Live in Boston. Die hard fans have been waiting for this release that arrives courtesy of the band’s own Bright Midnight label. I’ve heard the majority of these treasured BMA releases, and I own everything from the Detroit to Aquarius Theater shows. I even picked up the bizarre and boisterous Backstage and Dangerous Rehearsal discs. All of these recordings are an amazing glimpse at band that thrived performing in a live setting. The Doors were famous for improvising on stage and the results would range from brilliant to arduous, all depending on the mood and sobriety of Morrison.
When some people think of The Doors only the iconic image of Jim Morrison comes to mind. But die hard Doors fans know that guitarist Robby Krieger, drummer John Densmore and keyboardist Ray Manzarek were and will always be instrumental pieces of the majestic aura that made this L.A. band shine with immortality. The BMA, Bright Midnight Archives, are proof positive and these recordings testify to the truths that I speak of. If you’ve only heard the studio recordings then you’re missing out a key element of The Doors mystique. The Doors came alive in concert. Songs like “Light my Fire” evolved into epic medleys that thrive in this live setting. While the albums are black and white portraits of power and poetry, The Doors shows are full color sounds-capes that enrapture your imagination with every song that recreate on stage.
Just press play on Live in Boston and you’ll hear The Doors, warts and all. Listen for Krieger’s guitar feedback distorting in and out of space and Jim’s mic shorting in and out on Disc One’s “Alabama Song.” Get ready for the primordial overtones of a cocked and loaded Jim Morrison as he howls his poetic croons throughout this electrifying recording. The Doors actually played two shows in Boston on the night of April 10th 1970. It’s pretty amazing that a band with a history like that of the Doors would have ever played two shows in one night. Most bands are lucky to hit the stage for an hour and a half before one or two in the morning? Ya heard me? Yeah, I’m talking about you, Axl Rose.
The Doors were famous for not having a proper set list for these or any live shows. Even though some songs like “Roadhouse Blues” and “When the Music’s over” are repeated on this three-disc set, unlike most live bands, The Doors never played any song the same way twice. There are nuances within each of these different live versions, be they the way Krieger plays his picturesque guitar riffs, Manzarek’s atmospheric splendor of his trademark keys or Densmore’s soulful drum beats, each fills these transcendent rhythms into an ever changing experience with every Doors performance.
Highlights from Live in Boston include the nine minute version of “Five to One.” Morrison adds the improvised “Wrap your legs around my neck alright…” section turning this revolutionary classic to a call to arms anthem oozing with seduction. I love the soaking, sensual blues medley of Muddy Waters “Rock Me” blending smoothly into rocking railings of “Mystery Train.” These cuts showcase Krieger, Densmore and Manzarek laying the sultry southern soundtrack to Morrison’s bluesy vocals. Speaking of the blues, check out Morrison’s Elvis-like scat singing in this killer rendition of “The Spy.”
The Doors are in sync through The Boston shows. Listen how an appreciative Morrison proudly asks the crowd to give his comrades in arms some love after their amazing recreation of the instrumental coda during the revamped version of “Light my Fire.” After that familiar melody, “Fire” then morphs into immortality with the addition of “Fever,” Gershwin’s “Summertime” and “St. James Infirmary Blues.” What makes this version memorable to me is Morrison reciting “Cemetery cool and quiet/ hate to leave your sacred lay/ dread the milky coming of the day,” at the coda of “Fire,” from “Graveyard Poem,” my favorite of all his writings.
Listening to the powerful splendor that is Live in Boston helps you forget about all the rumors surrounding Morrison’s death. Who really cares how Jim died? Yes, I admit it was a tragedy. Morrison has always been a hero to me. The Doors changed my life. Their art and music opened my doors of perception. They have influenced my voice as a hungry artist and inspired me through out my grateful life as a struggling writer.
I finally had the chance to pay my respects to Jim. I made a pilgrimage to Père-Lachaise cemetery a few years back when I was in Paris. I left him some gifts; some flowers and a poem that I wrote for him on his gravestone. That emotional day will stay with me as long as I live. I will also never forget the first time I heard The Doors’ scratchy seven inch single of “Light My Fire” on my first antique turntable. I believe that we need to celebrate Jim’s life as an artist and member of one of the greatest American Rock bands in history.
Doors fans of all eras will cherish this live artifact. Live in Boston is a testament that encapsulates the legacy of The Doors. I believe the best bands thrive by molding their imperfections into epic greatness and The Doors are no different. Live in Boston is a glimpse inside the magic of what made this band so timeless. Although these shows lack perfection, these performances have the distinctive sensation of documenting the glory of the ultimate concert experience of The Doors.
The Doors – Live in Philadelphia
The Doors – Absolutely Live
The Doors – Live at the Aquarius Theatre: The Second Performance