Album: The Doors, Live In New York (Rhino)
Friday 18 December 2009
Whatever one thinks of Jim Morrison's status as "Poet" (the sole epitaph on his Père Lachaise Cemetery tombstone), The Doors' effectiveness as a live unit is undeniable. Rarely have three rock musicians pumped out music with the degree of dynamic intensity achieved here, while Morrison's charismatic, brooding good humour remains one of rock'n'roll's classic frontman strategies.
Covering four concerts from January 1970, the performances spread across the six CDs of Live In New York would be Morrison's last American shows with The Doors. They presented fans with a slightly different singer than the outrageous legend who was even then awaiting trial for alleged onstage exposure – podgier and less lizardly than in his previous sex-god image. His mood is surprisingly light, genially bantering with the audience over things like the meagreness of a proferred reefer ("You can pick your teeth with a New York joint") and stage invaders ("Well, that's New York for you – the only people that rush the stage are guys!"). By this time, Morrison was more enamoured of being "an old bluesman", and his boozing had tempered his poetic excesses. Instead, the material drawn from the forthcoming Morrison Hotel album featured more direct, earthy lyrics, even including bouts of absurd scatting on the infectious "Roadhouse Blues"s.
Fulfilling his blues longings, alongside the new songs and old favourites such as "Break On Through" and "Light My Fire" could be heard covers of things like Howlin' Wolf's "Back Door Man" and Jimmy Reed's "Going To New York Blues", balanced in the final show by the 16-minute poetic indulgence "Celebration Of The Lizard", one of the performances culled from the shows for the Absolutely Live double-album. Sadly, the thousands of edits required to compile that earlier live album left the original tapes in scattered tatters, so this definitive account of the shows has been pieced together from various sources, with consequent occasional slight dips in sound quality. Guest John Sebastian's blues harmonica parts on three of the final encores, meanwhile, were PA system, and thus absent from the tapes – so he has been brought in four decades later to re-create his original parts.
The result is a formidable confirmation of the band's power, studded with individual highlights – Robby Krieger's taut guitar solo on the second show's "Ship Of Fools", Ray Manzarek's interpolation of quotes from "Play With Fire" into "Break On Through" – but ultimately demonstrating that the best bands are not necessarily comprised of the most technically gifted players, but those most flexible and instinctively attuned to each others' requirements.
Download this Roadhouse Blues, Peace Frog, Ship Of Fools, Five To One
Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigourfilm
Bannatyne leaves Dragon's DenTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 2 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 3 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 4 World Cup 2014: Robin van Persie appears to give his bronze medal to eccentric Netherlands fan moments after being handed it by Sepp Blatter
- 5 Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’