Doors – Live in Vancouver 1970 (CD review)

Doors – Live in Vancouver 1970 (Bright Midnight / Rhino) CD review 

The Beatles and the Doors both ended their careers in the same year (1971).  Yet, both bands have taken a very different approach to their unreleased material.  The Beatles’ camp has been extremely stingy; never releasing a proper live album, while keeping countless hours of unreleased footage still locked in the archives.  By contrast, the remaining Doors formed their own record label, Bright Moon in 2000, specifically to release previously unheard material.  Live in Vancouver 1970 is their eighteenth (!) collection in ten years.

As with their other sets, this concert is complete, with no fixes and no edits.  So, there are several points where the band stops and has to tune (at one point while waiting, Jim Morrison bums a cigarette from a member of the audience, then complains about the humming of the air conditioning in the arena).  The show opens with “Roadhouse Blues” and “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar),” which Morrison reads rather coolly.  But, then things start to heat up – they turn in a ferocious version of “Five to One,” while the guitar on the next track, “When the Music’s Over” sounds like a buzz saw at the beginning.

While having guests on stage wasn’t a complete rarity for the group, being joined by blues legend Albert King was a special event.  The band runs through four classic blues tracks, giving King plenty of room to shine with his biting solos; a welcome change from guitarist Robby Krieger’s more jazz-influenced, restrained fretwork.

On a side note, this concert was from a time when guitar techs weren’t quite commonplace – there’s a point where they take over five minutes for both Krieger and King to get in tune, while the audience audibly gets restless – it’s unbelievable to think of this happening today.  Disc two contains only two songs, “Light My Fire” and “The End,” both almost 18 minutes in length, which gives plenty of opportunity for everyone to stretch out a bit.  Yet, especially with “Light My Fire,” Morrison’s adlibbing is quite focused, effortlessly shifting between “Fever,” “Summertime,” and “St. James Infirmary Blues” in the middle of the song.  The quality of the recording is not as good as some of their other releases, yet is still on-par with other concerts recorded at the time.  Plus, this collection gives a rare opportunity to hear the Doors outside the US. –Tony Peters